Online Magistrates’ Court
Information about online hearings for practitioners
The Online Magistrates' Court (OMC) enables matters to be heard online with parties appearing from remote locations.
Matters are heard and finalised in the criminal (summary and indictable), civil, and Specialist Courts and Programs jurisdictions.
Family violence intervention order and personal safety intervention order applications, and Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) matters may also be heard where appropriate.
Accessing an online hearing
Online hearings are enabled by the video conferencing technology supported by Cisco Webex (Webex). Webex supports video calls by web browser or application on a laptop, tablet or phone. Refer to the Webex user guide for more information. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the Webex platform and its functionality.
A Webex participant background is available for you to download and use for online hearings.
In accordance with Practice Direction No. 17 of 2020 you are required to register that you are acting in cases via EFAS. You must make adjournment requests and hearing requests for all summary criminal matters using the EFAS portal.
Refer to the frequently asked questions for more information.
Listing a hearing in the Online Magistrates' Court
To list a criminal hearing in the OMC, you will need to make a request for hearing via EFAS no later than three working days before the intended hearing date.
For listing of hearings in the civil or Specialist Courts and Programs jurisdictions, special considerations need to be taken into account such as:
- suitability of witnesses appearing online
- safety of affected family members and victims appearing online
- connectivity of all parties
- suitability of the case.
When requesting a hearing in the OMC, please provide the following information:
- estimated duration
- preferred hearing times
- whether special arrangements have been made for the client to attend at your offices to link into the hearing
- if victims or vulnerable persons are appearing, the suitability and safety of the location they appear from
- any specific needs of the parties, for example, interpreter or visual/hearing aids.
Contacting the court
To contact the court about a criminal matter, please email or telephone the criminal registry at the proper venue. There is no need to email confirmation of a transaction on EFAS to the court, but you may wish to keep a record for your own file.
To contact the court about a family violence matter, please email or telephone the intervention order registry at the proper venue.
To contact the court about a civil matter, please email or telephone the civil registry at the proper venue.
If you need to contact the court urgently, please email or telephone the proper venue.
To determine the proper venue of the court visit the find a court page.
The Online Magistrates' Court runs to a strict booking schedule and the magistrate needs time to read the documentation before the hearing.
All documents relevant to the online hearing must be filed using the eDocs Portal no later than three working days before the hearing.
Documents may only be filed via the eDocs Portal or the EFAS system. See the frequently asked questions for the difference.
Before the online hearing
There are several things you can do to prepare for an online hearing.
- Save the Webex participant background and upload to Webex for use during the online hearing.
- Test your technology and internet connection before the hearing to resolve any issues with connectivity, vision and audio.
- Ensure your device is charged and that you can be heard clearly through your speaker or microphone. Where possible, wear a headset.
- Turn phones off and consider using a “Court in progress” sign so those around you are aware that online court is in progress.
- Be mindful that online hearings may take longer than usual, so ensure you have allowed enough time for the hearing.
- Dress like you are physically appearing at court.
- Be aware of distractions around you, and ensure you are in a discrete space that respects the privacy of all court participants. Use a closed-door space and, if at home, make sure there is no background noise or distractions from other people.
- Ensure you have contact details for the court to hand in the event of technical difficulties. These details will be in the online hearing invite.
During the online hearing
It is important to comply with all court requirements and protocols during an online hearing.
- Be on time for your hearing by connecting to Webex 10 minutes before the hearing start time. Lateness creates additional pressures on the court, especially with the booking of links from prisons. Matters involving links from prisons are unlikely to be extended.
- Don’t move around during your hearing. Remember, you would need to seek leave to move around a courtroom – the same applies to the digital setting.
- Be aware that the bench clerk can mute your sound when you are not speaking. If they do so, please do not unmute yourself.
It is important to remember that traditional court protocols still apply to a digital setting, so ensure your dress, etiquette, behaviours and surroundings are appropriate.
It is a criminal offence under Section 4A and 4B of the Courts Security Act 1980 for anyone to take photographs, record or transmit any portion of a proceeding including taking screen shots on either the device you have connected from or another device.
All hearings are recorded according to the Magistrates' Court Act 1989. The standard application process to obtain recordings applies.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.