With the current Covid 19 Crisis, the Family Court and Federal Court of Australia are now moving to conducting necessary hearings by video link. The following information has has been issued by the Courts to assist in this unusual situation –
GUIDANCE FOR ATTENDANCE OF A WITNESS AT A COURT
HEARING BY VIDEO LINK TO GIVE EVIDENCE
For the purpose of this guidance, a witness includes a party.
- The behaviour and manner of a witness should be the same as if they were attending the Court hearing in person. This includes addressing the judge correctly -“Your Honour” – and counsel politely and courteously.
- The witness will be sworn or affirmed by the judge prior to commencement of their evidence.
- It is expected that the witness has had explained to them the distinction between an oath and an affirmation and be able to say immediately whether they wish to make an oath or an affirmation. If an oath is chosen, the witness should be requested to have available any religious text if they would like to have one.
- A witness is to be alone, in a secure room with doors closed.
- A witness should have recently re-read all affidavits or statements made by him or her in these proceedings and have a clean copy of those documents with them. Counsel will be able to electronically refer the witness to a document through the OneDrive folder or Microsoft Teams.
- The witness is to ensure that there will be no interruptions or distractions for the duration of the video appearance at the hearing.
- A witness may have a glass of water with them but a witness is not to permitted to eat or to drink anything else during the course of the hearing, without permission of the judge to do so.
- The witness may take notes and have pen and blank paper for doing so but the taking of note will not be permitted to impede the flow of the evidence.
- The party cross examining the witness is to ensure that the witness has all documents to which they may be referred. This means that a cross examiner must know in advance what documents will be shown to the witness and ensure that those documents are available to the witness in a timely way. Again, this can be facilitated through the use of a OneDrive folder setup.
- A witness must say when they are fatigued. Having regard to international time zones, a witness should not give evidence when the witness would usually be asleep.
- A witness should dress as if they were attending Court.
- A witness must have the lap top computer used during any test run conducted by the Court.
- Recording the evidence, the proceedings or any part of the proceedings is strictly prohibited and doing so will constitute a contempt of Court
We continue to be available to answer your questions during this time. If you need advice in relation to Separation, Divorce, Property Settlement or Children’s matters call Michelle Meares, Family Lawyer on 4324 7699.