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You are here: Skip breadcrumbAttorney-General's Department >> About us >> COVID-19 FAQs >> Courts and legal issues

 Courts and legal issues


Going to court | Seeking legal financial assistance | Seeking legal assistance | Bankruptcy | Fraud and scams | Extradition and mutual assistance | Commonwealth parole

Going to court

Q. Are all court registries closed?
Following developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have closed all public counters and face-to-face services. In urgent circumstances, face-to-face services may be provided after initial assessment via telephone. Find more information on the relevant court's website or using the following contact details:

  • High Court enquiries: call 02 6270 6811
  • Family Law enquiries: call 1300 352 000
  • General Federal law enquiries: call 1300 720 980

Q. What if I have a matter listed before a court?
Following developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have each made arrangements for current proceedings before the Court.

For the latest information and updates, visit the relevant court's website:

State and territory courts have also published information and updates on their websites about their arrangements.

Q. Will my matter with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal be affected?
For information about the operations of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, visit the Administrative Appeals Tribunal website.

Q. I am a legal practitioner, where can I find  guidance  about listings and electronic filing?
All federal courts, including the High Court, have published updated Practice Directions for the legal profession. Visit their websites to view:

Q. Can I still serve legal documents across international borders?
Service of legal documents under the Hague Service Convention will likely be subject to delays. 

For service of foreign documents in Australia, the length of the delay will depend on the state or territory in which you are seeking to have documents served.

For service of Australian legal documents overseas, the length of the delay will depend on the country in which you are seeking to have documents served.

For more information contact pil@ag.gov.au or view the Serving a Legal Document Across International Borders page.

Q. Can I still take evidence across international borders?
Taking of evidence under the Hague Evidence Convention will likely be subject to delays.

For taking of evidence in Australia for foreign proceedings, the length of the delay will depend on the state or territory in which you are seeking to have evidence taken. In some circumstances, the relevant state or territory authority may seek to make alternative arrangements for taking of evidence by telephone or audio-visual link.

For taking of evidence overseas for Australian proceedings, the length of the delay will depend on the country in which you are seeking to have evidence taken.

For more information contact pil@ag.gov.au or go to the Taking of evidence across international borders page.

Q. Can I electronically sign or witness a Commonwealth statutory declaration?
You should ask the organisation or person asking you to provide the statutory declaration if you or your witness can temporarily sign the declaration electronically (including typing your name in the signature section), or give another form of evidence.

Q. What if I cannot get my Commonwealth statutory declaration witnessed?
You should ask the organisation or person asking you to provide the statutory declaration if you can provide the statutory declaration without a witness temporarily, or provide another form of evidence.

The statutory declaration could temporarily be provided on the understanding that, if required, a witnessed version would be provided at a later stage once circumstances allow.

Q. Can I provide my Commonwealth statutory declaration electronically?
You should ask the organisation or person who asked for the statutory declaration if they will accept an electronic version of the statutory declaration.

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Q. Can someone assist me to apply for legal financial assistance?
Find general information about Commonwealth legal financial assistance that we administer,  including the relevant eligibility requirements, online.

Due to a high volume of enquiries, where possible email  finass@ag.gov.au with the details of your enquiry and your contact details.

If you don’t have access to email, call 1800 117 995 and leave a message with your name and a contact number. We will contact you as soon as possible.

Q. I receive financial assistance under the Special Circumstances Scheme (Overseas Criminal Matters) and my court hearing has been postponed. What does this mean for my legal financial assistance?
Funding continues in accordance with the terms and conditions of your grant. If you are concerned about a grant that may expire in the next 3-6 months, or if there is a significant change or development in your legal matter, including any changes to your court hearing dates, email finass@ag.gov.au or call 1800 117 995.

For information on legal financial assistance relating to overseas child parental abduction, visit International child parental abduction.

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Q. I've just lost my job and my landlord is trying to evict me. Where can I get legal help?
Depending on where you live, you may be able to seek advice from:

The government funds legal aid commissions, community legal centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services to provide legal assistance services to the public, in particular those who are financially disadvantaged or vulnerable.

Q. My local legal aid commission / community legal centre is not seeing any clients face-to-face. How do I get legal help?
Many legal assistance service providers have stopped face-to-face services to protect public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can still access legal assistance by phone or online.

For legal aid commission contact numbers and website information visit National Legal Aid.

For community legal centres visit the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

For a list of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island legal services please visit the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program.

Q. Are legal aid commissions and community legal centres still open?
Many legal assistance service providers have stopped face-to-face services to protect public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can still access legal assistance by phone or online.

For legal aid commission contact numbers and website information visit National Legal Aid.

For community legal centres visit the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

For a list of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island legal services please visit the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program.

Q. The wait time for phone / email legal assistance is really long. How do I get help quickly?
Given the increase in demand for legal assistance services due to COVID-19, many services are experiencing a high number of phone calls and emails. While it may take longer than usual, make sure you leave a message and your enquiry will be dealt with.

If you or someone you know is in danger call emergency services on 000 immediately.

If you are experiencing or at risk of experiencing domestic violence, call the police and/or contact a domestic violence unit near you.

For further advice or information about domestic and family violence, 1800RESPECT is a free, national telephone service: call 1800 737 732.

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Bankruptcy

Q. I can't pay my debts because of COIVD-19. Am I going to go bankrupt?
Information about the supports and services available to help make financial decisions during these difficult times is available on the moneysmart website. This includes information about financial assistance and counselling.

The Australian Government has made temporary changes to bankruptcy laws to help Australians facing financial distress during COVID-19. The changes reduce the threat of people being forced into bankruptcy.

Visit the debt relief page on the Australian Financial Security Authority website to find out more.

If you are unable to pay your debts, visit the Australian Financial Security Authority website for information.

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Fraud and scams

Q. I am a victim of fraud, a witness of fraud or suspect fraud related to COVID-19. Who should I report this to?
Visit Reporting fraud for more information about how to report fraud matters.

Q. I am a victim of an email, online or telephone scam related to COVID-19. What should I do?
Report email, online and telephone scams (including scams from interstate or overseas) to SCAMwatch, which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

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Extradition and mutual assistance

Q. I have a query about a client, family member or friend in extradition custody. Who can I contact?
For queries about current extradition matters email iccca@ag.gov.au.

Q. I have a query about an upcoming hearing or listing in a current extradition matter. Who can I contact?
For queries about current extradition litigation email LitigationUnit@ag.gov.au.

Q. Who can I contact for an update about my application for transfer under the International Transfer of Prisoners Scheme?
For queries about international transfer of prisoners email ITP@ag.gov.au.

Q. Can Australian law enforcement and prosecution agencies still obtain material from overseas through a mutual assistance request?
Yes, we are still able to progress mutual assistance requests. For questions about specific mutual assistance matters, email the International Crime Cooperation Central Authority at iccca@ag.gov.au.

Visit Mutual Assistance for general information about the mutual assistance process.

Q. Can Australian authorities still accept requests for assistance from foreign countries in criminal matters?
Yes, we can still accept requests and will attend to them as soon as possible, but there may be delays Email new requests to the International Crime Cooperation Central Authority at iccca@ag.gov.au.

Visit Mutual Assistance for general information about the mutual assistance process.

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Commonwealth parole

Q. Will I be considered for release on parole when my non-parole period expires?
Federal offenders are still being considered for parole according to their earliest dates of release.

Q. Can I apply for early release from prison based on the COVID-19 pandemic?
Applications for early release of federal prisoners are being considered in accordance with normal procedures.

Q. I am currently on parole for a Commonwealth offence, can I submit an application for international travel?
Given the current situation, the Commonwealth Parole Office will not accept applications for international travel from those who are currently on parole for a Commonwealth offence at this time, unless it is for exceptional circumstances.

For more information on how to apply for international travel visit the Parole page.

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