If you have court appearances due or business with the court the following information will help.

COVID-19 Information – 3 AprilThis page was last updated on 3 April at 9.30am

The Ministry of Justice is working closely with other government departments to continuously reassess our services and the current situation. 

The New Zealand Government has launched a public website containing help and advice about COVID-19: NZ Government: Unite against COVID-19(external link)

In the meantime, below you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions:

Are the courts still open?
Public access to courts is being limited for safety reasons.

You can only enter the District Court or High Court for criminal proceedings if you are required to be there for business of the court.

Witnesses, complainants, supporters and members of the public cannot enter the courthouse without advance permission of the presiding judge.

To get permission to attend proceedings in person, please contact 0800 COURTS.

This request cannot be made in person, as all counters at the courts are now closed to the public.

If you need to attend court for priority family court proceeding or civil proceedings, please call 0800 COURTS for assistance. 

We will accept Police bail including those whose bail date has expired. More information will be provided.

Please check the Court and Tribunal Closures page or call 0800 COURTS for more information.

What services are the courts providing during COVID-19 alert level 4?

Only priority justice services will continue to operate during COVID-19 alert level 4. Priority services are: District Court (Criminalwhere the defendant is in custody): Public order offenders Bail applications (including breaches) Sentencing those already in custody Deportation warrants Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 hearings Breach of Police Safety Orders (PSOs). District Court (Civil) Injunctions Harassment orders Harmful digital communications Tenancy Tribunal appeals against evictions. Youth Court Arrests (first appearances) Secure care applications Bail applications Review of custody Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 hearings Early release hearings. Family Court Public Health Order applications Without notice applications: Care and protection Protection and related Orders (Family Violence Act) Care of Children applications (family violence related) Mental Health (applications for compulsory treatment orders) hearings Other without notice applications: PPPR & PRA hearings Hague Convention hearings Substance Addiction (Compulsory Treatment) hearings Care and Protection hearings. High Court Custodial remands Bail applications, appeals and breaches Habeas corpus applications Remand, case review, sentencings and sentence indications which may affect custodial status Criminal appeals Civil appeals including those from the Family Court involving care of children and Hague Convention issues Applications by Police and Corrections authorities Applications for civil remedies including injunctions, freezing orders and interim orders in judicial review proceedings Urgent caveat matters Urgent probate matters Court of Appeal Bail applications Bail appeals Habeas corpus appeals Conviction appeals and short sentence appeals Matters arising under public and mental health legislation Family violence, and care and protection matters Pre-trial appeals where trials are proceeding Injunctions Urgent judicial reviews. Coronial Services. Please contact your lawyer to see whether your matter is a priority and if it is scheduled to be considered by the court.

If your matter does not relate to this list, do not come to court.

Cases that are not priority proceedings will be rescheduled to the next available date. The registry will advise participants of this. Please note there may be a delay in doing this due to the volume of cases required to be rescheduled. If you were scheduled to attend court and are unwell, or you have been instructed to self-isolate, please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction.

Should I still attend court? Will my hearing still go ahead?IMPORTANT: If you are unwell, do not attend court or any other public place. Please call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787) for further instruction. Essential justice services will continue to operate during COVID-19 alert level 4.

All persons due to attend court who are not at risk or in self-isolation should attend their court events as scheduled.

We would ask you to please follow the advice from Ministry of Health in relation to physical distancing and personal hygiene.

If you are unsure about when to next appear, please speak to your lawyers or ring the Ministry of Justice Contact Centre (0800 COURTS or 0800 268 787).

If your hearing needs to be rescheduled, the court or your lawyer will contact you directly.

Please note there may be a delay in doing this due to the volume of cases required to be rescheduled.

Can I reschedule my court event? • For information on requesting a new hearing date for court matters call 0800 COURTS (0800 268 787). • For information on requesting a new hearing date for fines or civil enforcement matters, call 0800 4 FINES (0800 434 637).

I have a parenting order in place. How do I comply/move my child to the other guardian’s home during lockdown?

Parents who have shared custody of their children but live in different cities during Alert Level 4 should follow the official advice. Lawyers will still be able to provide legal advice during this time if parents cannot reach agreement between themselves. The best thing everyone can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay at home. This includes parents with shared custody arrangements, and their children. The Principal Family Court Judge has released guidance for parents with shared custody arrangements. You can read more on the District Courts website(external link) . Generally, children in the same communities can continue to go between their homes. Simple precautions should be taken to protect the health of parents and children. This includes parents from different households keeping a distance of more than two metres. If the families are in different towns or communities, then the children should stay in one home. Children should also stay in one home if they’re feeling unwell, or if someone in their home is unwell or has been overseas in the last 14 days. This will protect the health of parents, caregivers and children. Guidance for parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers(external link)Guidance for managing shared custody during alert level 4What if I need a Justice of the Peace? Justice of the Peace services have been suspended in response to the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 status. Please check in with the agency you are preparing documents for to obtain further advice before attempting to visit the court. Many regulatory requirements have been suspended as a result of COVID-19 Alert Level 4 status. More information can be found on the Justice of the Peace website(external link)

How do I file documents to court?

For documents relating to priority services: The Court requires that you file your documents by email. You can file by post if you don’t have access to email. There will likely be a delay in processing your documents if you file by post. If you consider your matter is urgent, you must file by email. The email and physical addresses for each court are available on this site. Click on Find us then select the relevant court, and click on Details. If you choose to send documents by courier, confirm that the court is open and will have counter staff available to accept the package. Check the court closure status at: Court closures due to COVID-19Note: For couriering documents to the Probate team at the Wellington High Court, the courier needs to come between 9am and 1pm and call (04) 914 3600 for assistance. Important note on Without notice Family Court applications Without notice Family Court applications can be emailed to the dedicated court email address found here: Without notice email addresses You may go to Court if your matter relates to a Family Court without notice application and you can’t file by email.  For documents relating to non-priority services If your documents are not urgent, we ask that you refrain from filing during the Alert Level 4 period. You should call or email your lawyer if you believe you need to file something before the Alert Level 4 period finishes. You can still file by email if you received any documents from Court prior to the Alert Level 4 period requesting or asking you to file anything in response.

Can I file documents to a court that has closed?
If your local court is closed, your documents filed by email will be forwarded to an alternative court location. The documents will be considered and actioned by staff at an alternative court location as soon as practicable.

How do I pay filing fees? You will not be required to pay filing fees during this Alert Level 4 period. All filing fees will be waived.

How can I change my bail address? Please call 0800 COURTS for more information.

I have an active warrant to arrest. Can I make a voluntary appearance at court? No voluntary appearances on warrants to arrest will be seen. Please contact the Police: call the non-emergency line on 105 call your local police station visit your local police station.

I have fines I cannot pay. What should I do? If your circumstances have changed and you can no longer meet a payment arrangement, please contact 0800 4 FINES. If you want to check your fine balance or set up an arrangement to pay your fines, please contact 0800 4 FINES after the Alert Level 4 lockdown period ends to discuss. You can still pay your fine online, but your payment may not be processed until after the lockdown period. Regular updates will be posted to this page outlining our response as it develops. If you can’t find the information you need, please call 0800 COURTS in the first instance.

Can I still make emergency appointments under s62 of the PSPPI Act 2010? Some aspects of private security services are classified as essential services. An emergency appointment can be made under 61 of the Act, provided: the appointment is necessary to carry out essential services the person engaged has applied for a certificate of approval and paid the fee, and the licence holder is satisfied that grounds for disqualification under s 62 are unlikely to apply to the person they seek to engage. A person can continue to act as a security employee under this emergency appointment procedure: for a period of 4 weeks, or for as long as Alert level 4 remains in place if that extends beyond the 4-week period. Any person engaged on an emergency appointment under this direction while level 4 of the  COVID-19 alert system is in place: may commence work as soon as they have filed their application for a certificate of approval and the Licensing Authority has been notified of their emergency appointment; and is exempted from the requirement to wear the official identification badge as set out in s 67 of the Act; and must carry a copy of this direction with them while working in an essential service with their name and application number recorded on it. They are also required to produce this direction on request as if it were their formal ID. Note: All work of the Licensing Authority, including the processing of applications for licenses and certificates, is suspended until further notice.
For more information refer to the Emergency Directions on the Ministry of Justice website: COVID-19 emergency appointment directions PSPLA [PDF, 125 KB]

I cannot pick up my badge from the post office, can I still work? Any person with an application for a certificate or temporary certificate of approval that was  approved 21 February 2020 onwards, but has been unable to collect their official ID: may commence work as soon as they have filed their application for a certificate of approval and the Licensing Authority has been notified of their emergency appointment; and is exempted from the requirement to wear the official identification badge as set out in s 67 of the Act; and must carry a copy of this direction with them while working in an essential service with their name and application number recorded on it. They are also required to produce this direction on request as if it were their formal ID. Appropriate reasons for being unable to collect their official ID include: it was not printed before Alert level 4 came into place, or because their collection Post Shop is now closed. For more information refer to the Emergency Directions on the Ministry of Justice website: COVID-19 emergency appointment directions [PDF, 125 KB]

I need legal advice – how do I get it? Lawyers are still able to provide advice during the lockdown. They will do this to the extent possible while maintaining compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. Legal aid is still available. A list of legal aid lawyers can be found on our Ministry of Justice website: Find a legal aid lawyer You may be eligible for assistance from a Community Law Centre. You should phone them first, as a range of working practices are now in place across the country to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. You can find their contact details on the Community Law website(external link) .

I need help to complete my court form or application If you need help completing court forms or applications, you’ll need to seek legal advice. The Citizens Advice Bureau or a Community Law Centre are still available to provide legal advice by phone or email. Citizens Advice Bureau(external link)
Community Law(external link)

I need a criminal record check – how long will this take to process? Criminal record checks will continue to operate during COVID-19 alert level 4. However, we cannot guarantee that posted requests will be processed. While all electronic requests will be processed, priority will be given to urgent requests for essential services as defined on the COVID-19 Government website(external link) . The Criminal Records Unit phoneline will not be in service during this time. If you have queries, please contact criminalrecord@justice.govt.nz