Audio-visual facilities in courts

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Connecting our courts

The Courts (Remote Participation) Act 2010 allows video conferencing to be used in some court proceedings. AVL (Audio-Visual Link) technology allows courts to connect directly to prison booths and to other video conferencing facilities in New Zealand and overseas.

Types of proceedings where AVL can be used

Criminal procedural matters (where no evidence will be presented)

Criminal procedural matters will be heard by audio-visual link rather than in person, when the defendant is in custody and the technology is available, taking into account the criteria under sections 5 and 6 of the Act.  Sentencing may also take place by AVL.

Judicial officers may decide to hold the hearing in person and parties to the matter can also apply to the court to hold the hearing in person.

Criminal substantive matters (where evidence will be presented)

AVL can’t be used to hear substantive matters unless the judicial officer decides to allow its use. The judicial officer must take into account the criteria in sections 5 and 6 of the Act, and whether the parties consent to its use.

The Act specifically requires a defendant’s consent before AVL can be used if the appearance is for a trial which determines their guilt or innocence.

Civil matters

AVL can be used where the judicial officer considers that the criteria of the Act would be satisfied.

Facilities available

Court to custody link

A court to custody link is a link between court and custodial facilities (for example, a prison) which have AVL facilities available. The link is primarily used for remand appearances. Where a court is able to connect with a custodial facility by AVL, counsel can contact the court to enquire about options available to meet virtually with their client in custody.

Requesting the use of AVL or video conferencing services

Most Courts and Tribunals have video conferencing facilities. Parties can apply in person or in writing to their local court to use AVL. A judicial officer or registrar may also consider it appropriate to use AVL.

Operating guidelines & protocols

AVL court-to-custody link operating guidelines

The Ministry of Justice has developed AVL operating guidelines for District Court and Senior Courts. It’s recommended that court participants familiarise themselves with these before an AVL appearance.

AVL operating guidelines for Senior Courts [PDF, 684 KB]

AVL operating guidelines for District Court [PDF, 707 KB]

Judicial protocol court-to-custody link

The Chief District Court Judge has issued a judicial protocol to provide guidance to judicial officers and registrars when presiding over an AVL hearing.

Judicial protocol [PDF, 143 KB]

AVL & in-court media coverage

Applications can be made for access to the AVL feed of the defendant in custody. This is done in the same way as the process for in-court media coverage. 

Media guide for reporting the courts and tribunals: edition 3.1

All media enquiries should be directed to the Public Information team.

Phone: (04) 918 8836 or (027) 689 0667

Email: courts.media@justice.govt.nz

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