See the latest COVID-19 updates and information impacting the South Australian legal profession.

LATEST: New Guide: Law Practice Management Information & Strategies | Web video hearings for contentious District Court matters New Family & Federal Circuit Court Practice Direction 

Law Society releases COVID-19 practice management guide

Posted 31 March 2020

In recognition of the COVID-19 crisis the Ethics and Practice Unit of the Society has prepared a COVID 19 – Practice Management Information and Strategies guide which references State and Federal Government business initiatives particularly relevant to small to medium law practices, and provides advice on the observance  of certain regulatory and ethical matters in the current circumstances that will be relevant to all law practices. Please email any questions to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au


Providing an essential service during a pandemic 

Posted 30 March 2020 

The Law Society has been in regular contact with Government representatives and heads of jurisdiction to ensure that the provision of legal services can be maintained and conducted in a safe manner amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Practice of law as an essential service

The Society has written to the Attorney-General to seek confirmation and guidance as to whether legal services will be considered an “essential service” in the event of further restrictions. The Society suggested that legal services would be required during an emergency period and that some processes that have typically involved face-to face interaction, such as verification of identity procedures, may need to be amended during an emergency period. The Society will inform Members of any response provided by the Attorney-General.

Strategies to mitigate COVID-19 impact on lawyers

The Society is seeking the views of its Special Interest Committees as to the impact of COVID-19 on legal practice and services. The Society will be raising these issues with the relevant heads of jurisdiction and the Attorney-General and will be providing suggested solutions and temporary measures (as informed by its Special Interest Committees) to ensure the profession can continue to provide legal services to the community.

Advocating for modified practices to maintain provision of legal services

The Society has sought to address a number of issues raised by Members in response to the COVID-19 emergency. These include but are not limited to, matters arising in the Magistrates Court and the increased use of technology to facilitate remote access/attendance and ensure that the justice system can continue to operate safely and effectively.

Health & safety in correctional facilities  

The Society is in regular contact with the Department of Corrections to seek updates as to prisoner health and measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities and beyond. The Society has written to the Department on a number of occasions on behalf of its Criminal Law Committee, including with suggestions as to how increased use of technology and telephone services can ensure practitioners are able to access clients safely. The Society has also written to the Minister for Correctional Services, asking him to consider the early release of low-risk prisoners in light of growing fears of a COVID-19 outbreak occurring in a correctional facility. 

Practice Management Information and Strategies 

Posted 31 March 2020 

Practice Management Support

Law practice management is difficult at the best of times. In the current circumstances it is overwhelming.

In recognition of this the Ethics and Practice Unit of the Society has prepared a COVID 19 – Practice Management Information and Strategies guide which references State and Federal Government business initiatives particularly relevant to small to medium law practices, and provides advice on the observance  of certain regulatory and ethical matters in the current circumstances that will be relevant to all law practices.

Please email any questions to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au.

Regulation 33(3)(b) Waiver

Regulation 33(3)(b) of the Legal Practitioners Regulations 2014 states that, during April of each year, all law practices with trust accounts must give the Society written notice of the associates of the practice (including their full name and residential addresses) who are authorised, as at 31 March of that year –

 

  1. to sign cheques drawn on a general trust account of the practice; or
  2. otherwise to effect, direct or give authority for the withdrawal of money from a general trust account of the practice,

 

Given the difficult circumstances the Council of the Society has resolved as follows:

        That, pursuant to Regulation 56, the Society waives the notification requirements under Regulation 33(3)(b) with respect to April 2020 on the proviso that practitioners respond to specific requests by Society officers for such information in a timely manner.

Please note that the waiver only relates to the requirement to notify the Society.

Combined Trust Account

The current Combined Trust Account (CTA) period will end on 31 May 2020 with deposits or notices of withholding due by 14 June 2020.

To assist the profession the Society has decided to make its online CTA calculator available to all members of the profession on a temporary basis. The CTA calculator is a member service funded by and usually restricted to Society members. The calculator is being made available on a temporary basis to the wider profession as a result of the COVID 19 emergency but will revert to being a member service only when restrictions are relaxed.

The Society reassures the profession that it will be taking a proportionate and pragmatic approach with respect to the imposition of penalty interest in the event of CTA non-compliance and, where it is appropriate to do so, will be remitting interest in part or in whole (in accordance with its internal policies).

If you have any questions or concerns with respect to any of the information in this Practitioner Alert please send an email to ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au.


Support for businesses and employees

Posted 30 March 2020

The Federal and SA Governments have announced a number of packages aimed at providing financial support to businesses (including sole traders, small business owners and companies) and employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Businesses that have experienced a 30% reduction in turnover may be eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy. Visit the JobKeeper site to apply for the JobKeeper Payment  

Visit the  
SA Government’s Economic Response Package site to find out about eligibility for support packages and to access financial support.

Find out more about how SA businesses can access payroll tax relief, land tax relief and other measures, and how employees affected by the pandemic can access financial support.


An important message about Wellbeing & Resilience 

Posted 25 March 2020 
 

We are hearing a lot about handwashing and social distancing at the moment (and rightly so) – but what about the other things we need to be doing to look after ourselves and our family, friends and colleagues?

Lawyers right across SA are facing uncertainty, disrupted income, health issues, worry about their loved ones, and so on… These challenges can produce effects such as exhaustion, detachment from others, insomnia, poor eating habits and irritability. And, of course, an increased risk of experiencing anxiety and depression.

Some of the usual recommendations for keeping ourselves mentally healthy and resilient aren’t very helpful at a time like this where social isolation is mandated for the foreseeable future.   The isolation of working remotely without the usual day to day interactions with your colleagues will likely take its toll. 

The gym is no longer an option. Connecting with friends and family over dinner has been ruled out. Even getting some quiet time on your own at home might be difficult now if everyone in the household is working or studying from home.

The Law Society’s Wellbeing and Resilience Committee wants to remind you that there are a range of services still available to support you at this difficult time and there is a lot you can do to take care of yourself despite the restrictions on movement and interaction.

Our top five tips for your wellbeing and resilience:

1.     Stay connected – there are so many ways to do this online now. Share a Spotify playlist, have a video call through Skype or FB Messenger, play games against colleagues or friends online… This is particularly important for people who are working from home and are therefore physically isolated from colleagues as well as their family and friends. For more inspiration, click here.

2.      Keep physically active – use this as an opportunity to work on your (solo) running or explore the millions of free exercise videos online. Chris Hemsworth is offering a free trial of his fitness/lifestyle app, Centr, and there are lots of other free options to choose from as well. Your gym might even be offering some free online content. Even if you are only working out in your lounge room – you will still get the same boost to your physical and mental health.

3.      Focus on what you can control – there is a lot that we can’t control, predict or even understand at the moment. Taking charge where we can will help us to combat anxiety. So create a new daily routine for yourself, decide on some projects you want to spend your weekends at home working on, and make sure you get enough sleep.

4.      Practice meditation and mindfulness – much of the anxiety we feel comes from rehashing what we have already lived through and obsessing over what might happen next. That is a normal response to a situation like this but meditation and mindfulness can bring us back to the present moment and therefore help us to keep anxiety at bay. There are lots of apps which make this really easy, such as HeadSpace and InsightTimer.

5.      Give yourself some enjoyable distractions – don’t just work and scroll through news feeds. Here is one of the many central resources for suggestions about podcasts, books, TV shows, movies and much more to keep the whole household amused. 

Our top three resources if you need some support:

1.       Lifeline is still available to you 24/7. They offer phone, text and online chat services. They also have some suggestions about getting through this period.

2.       BeyondBlue services are also still available via phone and chat.

3.       LawCare Counselling service remains available via phone and face-to-face.

If you are interested in learning more, click here for more apps, fact sheets and websites. You can also access our free Online Wellbeing and Resilience Program (for which you can claim 1 CPD point) and a Wellbeing and Resilience Guide.

Wellbeing & Resilience Committee 

Practitioner Support Links 


LawCare and support groups 

Ethics Enquiry Service 

Wellbeing & Resilience Resources

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Court Updates and Information webpages 

Pinned post 

Courts Administration Authority Coronavirus COVID-19 Information

South Australian Employment Tribunal website

South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal website


Magistrates Court criminal matters

Posted 1 April 2020 

Please find attached a letter of 31 March 2020 from the Chief Magistrate. It advises new rosters will take effect from 6 April 2020 to allow some Magistrates to be quarantined and to reduce listings. As a consequence, only certain lists will be rostered and other lists will be vacated.  


Magistrates Court criminal matters

Posted 31 March 2020

Please find attached a memorandum of 31 March 2020 from the Chief Magistrate containing up to date information
as arrangements for criminal matters throughout the State.

Information is changing rapidly. Please continue to check the CAA webpage for updates. 


District Court civil and criminal matters

Posted 30 March 2020

Please find
attached an announcement (27 March 2020) of the District Court of South Australia which details a number of arrangements implemented by the Court. It advises the suspension of new jury trials will be extended so that no new jury trial will commence in the District Court of South Australia prior to 1 July 2020.


South Australian Employment Tribunal

Posted 26 March 2020 

Please find attached an announcement of 25 March 2020 from the Hon Justice President Steven Dolphin, President of the SAET. It advises procedures for urgent hearings to take the plaintiff’s evidence in Dust Disease cases.


Magistrates Court criminal matters 

Posted 25 March 2020 

Please find attached a letter of 23 March 2020 from the Chief Magistrate. It advises a number of measures the Court has implemented and provides direction in relation to defendants attending court.    

Please find attached a General News Release of 24 March 2020 from the Chief Magistrate. It advises all documents to be relied on by parties are to be emailed to the appropriate court registry and the other party or parties by no later than 3pm on the business day prior to the hearing to eliminate the need for documents to be physically tendered on the day of the hearing. 


Supreme Court - practice changes 

Posted 24 March 2020 

Please find attached a memorandum from the Chief Justice. The memorandum records the resolution of the Judges and Masters of the Supreme Court made at a special meeting held on Friday, 20 March 2020, to modify the practice and procedure of the Court to address the risk to public health caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic.

The procedures will be reviewed as the situation changes. 

 

District Court criminal matters 

Posted 18 March 2020 

Please find attached an announcement of 18 March 2020 from the District Court in relation to criminal matters. It advises a range of measures which have been implemented immediately in light of the Government’s recommendations in relation to COVID-19.   The Court will provide a further update in relation to criminal matters in due course, but in any event before 4 April 2020. 


Magistrates Court criminal matters 

Posted 18 March 2020 

Please find attached an announcement of 18 March 2020 from the Chief Magistrate in relation to arrangements for criminal proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It attaches a list of SAPOL contacts – a duty prosecutor for each of the SAPOL prosecution units is available on the numbers provided to engage in discussions in respect to administrative adjournments. Solicitors ringing units seeking adjournments will be prioritised.


South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Posted 18 March 2020 

SACAT has released an update of 18 March 2020 advising the it will maintain ‘business as usual’ for as long as circumstances permit but is planning a ‘phased’ approach to implementing alternative operating arrangements to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its members, employees and users. The update advised a number of interim measures which are being introduced to prevent and minimise the spread of COVID-19.


South Australian Employment Tribunal 

Posted 18 March 2020 

Please find attached a media release of 18 March 2020 from the Honourable President Justice Dolphin advising a number of measures which will be implemented as of Thursday 19 March 2020 and operate until Thursday 9 April 2020. However, the position may be revised in accordance with changing circumstances, updated Australian and State Government protocols and the advice of health experts.


Magistrates Court civil matters 

Posted 18 March 2020

Please find attached a letter of 17 March 2020 from Her Honour Judge Hribal, Chief Magistrate in relation to civil matters being heard in the Magistrates Court.  It advises a range of measures that will be implemented as of 19 March 2020 and operate until 9 April 2020 (Easter). However they may be revised as new public health announcements are made.  The measures which may apply after Easter will be communicated by 2 April 2020.


Advices from the Supreme and District Court Masters 

Posted 16 March 2020 

The Supreme and District Court Masters have provided advice in relation to the implementation of the Government’s recommendations in COVID-19, for each court.
 
All matters before District Court Masters from 18 March 2020

All matters before Supreme Court Masters from 17 March 2020
 
The Courts Administration Authority has separately today advised measures being taken in the courts and requirements of parties.  Refer letter of 16 March 2020 from the States Court Administrator, here.
 
The Federal Court has issued a further advice, which is attached here

Court Updates and Information webpages 

Pinned post 

Federal Circuit Court COVID-19 Updates and Information

Family Court of Australia COVID-19 Updates and Information


Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Posted 1 April 2020 

Please find attached Joint Practice Direction 2 of 2020. It advises special measures which have been implemented, effective today, in relation to electronic filing; viewing of subpoenas; annexures to affidavits; signatures on documents and affidavits; and fees.

This Joint Practice Direction supersedes Family Court of Australia Practice Direction 2 of 2020 and Federal Circuit Court of Australia Practice Direction 3 of 2020.

Please find attached a letter of 31 March 2020 from the Hon Will Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia in relation to Alternative Dispute Resolution, settlement and mediation services. Organisations who are providing services (particularly those undertaking mediation, FDR and/or arbitration work) during the current crises are invited to provide details of those services, including a short explanatory paragraph, to the Court for publication on its website. 


Federal Court of Australia 

Posted 1 April 2020 

Update 13 (31 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached. It provides updates in relation to the Court’s capacity to hold remote hearings; allocations; the s91X data breach; and consideration for the profession. 


Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Posted 31 March 2020

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have today published a series of Questions and Answers for parents who may have concerns relating to parenting arrangements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Q&As are available from the Family Court of Australia website and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia website


Federal Court of Australia

Posted 30 March 2020

Update 12 (27 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached. It provides updates in relation to the hearing of matters on Microsoft Teams and a data breach in relation to s91X of the Migration Act


Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Posted 26 March 2020

Please find attached a statement of 26 March 2020 from the Hon Will Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia. It provides parents with some general guidance and assures that whilst changes to the Courts’ operations have been implemented in accordance with the necessary restrictions placed on our community by the Commonwealth Government, the Courts remain open to assist Australian families in these challenging times.

  

Federal Court of Australia

Posted 26 March 2020 

Update 10 (25 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached. It provides information as to the Court’s capability to deliver remote hearings. 

Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia 

Posted 25 March 2020 

Members of the profession practising in family law are advised that the call-over of matters listed before Judge Heffernan on Tuesday 31st March 2020 is cancelled. Parties will be advised as soon as possible of a new date for call-over of those matters, which will be on a date in August 2020. Parties are excused from filing further call-over documents at this time.

Please find attached an important announcement of 25 March 2020 from the Adelaide Federal Circuit Court Judges. Among other matters, it advises that the Court will not be holding any final hearings until 31 July 2020. Each such trial listing will be cancelled and in lieu of final hearing be allocated a directions hearing listing either on the day originally listed for trial or proximate to it. The Court will continue to deal with matters which require urgent attention and management during this period of national crisis.

An update of 23 March 2020 concerning measures and listing arrangements for Registrars and Child Dispute Services is attached. The principal basis upon which work will be conducted in the Courts in the near future will be by telephone, and when it becomes possible, by videoconferencing. Only urgent matters will be dealt with by face-to-face hearings or interviews, which will be conducted pursuant to the attached face-to-face in court protocol (and courtroom diagram) and the attached face-to-face interview protocol (below).

Please find attached a Media Release of 18 March 2020 which provides a summary of the new arrangements for family law and general federal law cases. The aim of the arrangements is to ensure that all urgent and priority matters are able to be dealt with safely by the courts, whilst at the same time, ensuring appropriate social distancing is adhered to.


Federal Court of Australia 

Posted 25 March 2020 

Update 9 (24 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached. It advises arrangements being made for migration matters where an interpreter is needed. 

Federal Court of Australia

Posted 24 March 2020 

Update 8 (23 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached. It attaches a Special Measures Information Note of 23 March 2020 setting out arrangements for the continued operation of the Court during the COVID-19 outbreak, including modified practices in order to minimise in person attendance on Court premises, including electronic lodgement and allowing (on a temporary basis) documents to be signed electronically.

It also attaches the current version of a guide for the use of the application presently being used by judges in the Court – Microsoft Teams. 


Federal Court of Australia - Advice for conducting electronic hearings 

Posted 23 March 2020 
 

The Hon Justice Perram has provided the following advice in relation to conducting electronic hearings on Microsoft Teams:

Please find attached a manual and frequently asked questions document for working with Microsoft Teams. My chambers have successfully run a trial in this mode and there is no reason it cannot be done from home during a lockdown. It is likely I will be conducting a trial in that manner on Thursday and Friday. I am conducting a hearing on Teams today with the parties remotely located (although I will be in the courtroom today).

The Court will be endeavouring to deal with as much business as it can subject to the circumstances. I can see no reason in principle why matters cannot be dealt with on Teams, or by phone or in writing. My understanding is that the Court is moving in the same direction.

Please do not hesitate to contact my associates if you have any queries. A big thanks to Ben Mee, James King and Rob Clark of counsel who on very short notice put together the documents and the list of counsel who would find it useful.

Please free to pass this communication on.

Kind regards

Nye Perram

Federal Court Update #5

Posted 20 March 2020 

Update 5 (19 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached. It advises measures the Court is taking with respect to organising the technical capacity to hear all trials to the extent necessary via videoconferencing facilities.
 
Chief Justice Allsop and the Chief Justice of the Family Court, Hon William Alstergren intend to produce video updates moving forward in order to inform the profession of what measures each court is implementing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and why.



Family Court and Federal Circuit Court 

Posted 20 March 2020 

Please find attached a notice to the profession of 19 March 2020 from the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The Courts will continue to conduct court work within current parameters based on the advice of the Commonwealth Government Department of Health and the Chief Medical Officer. The notice contains an update as to the measures and listing arrangements that are being implemented by the Courts to address these challenges.
 
The principal basis upon which work will be conducted in the Courts in the near future will be by telephone, and when it becomes possible, by videoconferencing. Only urgent matters will be dealt with by in court face-to-face hearings, which will be conducted pursuant to the protocol listed within the notice.
 
The Courts have each released a Practice Direction detailing modified practices being implemented in order to minimise the attendance by legal practitioners and parties at registries.
 
Family Court of Australia Practice Direction 2 of 2020 - Electronic Filing, Annexures to Affidavits and Viewing of Subpoenas
 
Federal Circuit Court of Australia Practice Direction 3 of 2020 - Electronic Filing and Viewing of Subpoenas


Federal Circuit Court - Adelaide Registry 

Posted 18 March 2020 

Please find attached a notice of 18 March 2020 from the Judges of the Adelaide Registry of the Federal Circuit Court advising arrangements being put in place.


Federal Court Update #3

Posted 18 March 2020 
 
Update 3 (17 March 2020) from the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Hon James Allsop is attached.  In light of the recent developments that led to the closure of the Lionel Bowen building in Sydney, the Federal Court is taking steps to reduce the risk to court users and court staff from in person attendance in court buildings, commencing Wednesday, 18 March 2020.
 
Unless specifically and individually excepted by the Court, all Federal Court of Australia listings that require in person attendance, including mediations and listings relying on video link from court premises listed up to 30 June 2020, are vacated. The Court is examining, as a matter of urgency, its capability to facilitate listings by remote access technology, without requiring in person attendance.   Further information of alternative arrangements that may be able to be put in place will be provided as soon as possible.
 
In the meantime, parties with listed hearings up to 30 June 2020 will be contacted by the Court directly about the need for the matter to proceed and possible options for achieving that where appropriate.
 
The decision as to whether the listing will proceed in the short term and, if so, when and in what manner, will be made by the relevant judge or registrar in consultation with the Chief Justice.
 
Court users should closely monitor the Daily Court Lists to check which listings are proposed to proceed.

Family and Federal Circuit Court 

Posted 18 March 2020 

Please find attached an announcement from the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court (16 March 2020) regarding measures that have been put in place in these courts.  Court enquiries can be directed to their National Enquiry Centre by email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au or telephone: 1300 352 000.
 
The Courts will update their websites as new information comes to hand.

Family Court of Australia
Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Australian Registrars National Electronic Conveyancing Council

Posted 24 March 2020

Please find
attached a statement from the Australian Registrars National Electronic Conveyancing Council. It provides guidance in relation to concerns regarding the face-to-face identity verification regime and signing of Client Authorisations. 

Land Services SA

Posted 23 March 2020 

The Registrar-General has advised that the Settlements Room and the overflow Room at Grenfell Street would close at 5pm today. Refer 
Customer Information Bulletin No 340, published today.
 
Land Services SA has subsequently released a Customer Bulletin, “Dealing with Residual Paper Settlements”, designed to assist in dealing with residual paper settlements.  It is reproduced below.
 
Earlier this morning a teleconference was facilitated by AICSA to work through the near-term logistical matters that have arisen as a consequence of the closure of the Settlements Room at 101 Grenfell Street Adelaide.
 
This meeting was attended by representatives from Land Services SA, the Office of the Registrar-General, conveyancers, lawyers, financial institutions, Electronic Lodgement Network Operators and broader market participants.
 
The below information is provided to assist in dealing with residual paper settlements over the coming weeks, however these arrangements may change with very little notice as the COVID-19 situation evolves. As such, where possible, clients should be converting settlements to the digital channel.
 
Settlements will be split across multiple locations to restrict the number of people gathering in accordance with Government and health guidelines. The agreed protocol will be to attend the premises of the Discharging Mortgagee or Vendor if the property is unencumbered.

 

 
Please CLICK HERE to view SAI Global’s customer notice.

For your own health and safety, it is strongly encouraged that where possible, all work in progress be converted and lodged electronically, and that you reconsider attending the residual paper settlements in person if you are feeling unwell.
 
We appreciate that there are many concerns around COVID-19 and we wish to reassure you that the maintenance of a healthy and safe environment and the protection of our employees and customers remain our priority. To maintain the safety of our staff, other customers and tenants of 101 Grenfell Street, we ask clients not to congregate in large groups in our foyer or other common areas of the 101 Grenfell Street tenancy.
 
Land Services SA continues to monitor the quickly evolving circumstances and will notify you of any changes to our services in response to COVID-19.



Registrar General – Closure of the Settlements Room – 5pm today!

Posted 20 March 2020 

The Registrar-General has advised today that the Settlements Room and the overflow Room at Grenfell Street will close at 5pm today.  At this stage, the Drop & Go and face-to-face lodgment services provided by Land Services remain unchanged.  Refer Customer Information Bulletin No 340, published today.


Conveyancing practices 

Posted 18 March 2020 

Practitioners who practise in conveyancing should keep in mind the potential for the spread of COVID-19 to disrupt the industry including Lands Titles dealings and the finance of these.  Any disruption to these processes may also lessen the client experience which may reflect badly upon the practitioner including his or her firm.  Given the potential for this disruption, the Society recommends practitioners consider remote electronic dealings with the land registry wherever this is possible.  Electronic lodgement provides a wide range of flexibility and is a worthwhile risk abatement measure as the practitioner, including his or her staff, will be able to avoid attendance in the LTO settlement room which is not only a constrained area but can be densely populated from time to time. 
 
Practitioners are referred to the web page of each of PEXA and Sympli in order to familiarise themselves with the range of online lodgement services that are available, and also, the procedure to subscribe to these services.  Furthermore, practitioners should be alert to any directions which may issue from the Office of the Registrar General or Land Services SA.  Customer Information Bulletin #339 from Land Services SA is attached.


Director of Public Prosecutions - trial by judge alone 

Posted 24 March 2020


Please find attached a letter of 20 March 2020 from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Martin Hinton QC. It advises the working arrangements of the ODPP and assures that despite arrangements for legal staff to work from home, it will be ‘business as usual’ subject to controls implemented by the Courts Administration Authority.  

 

ODPP Arrangements 

Posted 20 March 2020 

Please find attached a letter of 20 March 2020 from the Director of Public Prosecutions, Martin Hinton QC. It advises the working arrangements of the ODPP and assures that despite arrangements for legal staff to work from home, it will be ‘business as usual’ subject to controls implemented by the Courts Administration Authority.  

Department for Correctional Services - important information for visitors

Posted 23 March 2020 

The Department for Correctional Services has advised it will suspend all personal prison visits from Monday 23 March 2020.

Professional visits booked from 8am today will be reduced to 50% with the following precautions:

  • 1 adult visitor per prisoner
  • Prisoner and visitor must sit opposite each other
  • No ‘personal’ contact (handshakes, hugs, kissing etc)
  • No sharing of food and water bottles.

Professional visitors who are feeling unwell, have been overseas or had contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 within the last two weeks and are required to self-isolate, are not allowed to visit any DCS prisons.

The Society is closely following the situation as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate in Australia and around the world. We are continuing to take measures to accord with those recommended by the Australian Government and are planning a scalable response.

All Law Society staff are now working from home and providing services to Members as best possible.  Email contact with Staff Members and services is preferred at present as not all telephone systems are up and running as yet. The standard contact email addresses for key services are

Ethics Enquiry Service 

Member Services

Litigation Assistance Fund

Law Claims

Murray Law Library


The following measures are presently in place. It is “business as usual” for the services not identified below as having changed arrangements, until such time as we advise otherwise.
  
CPD, Conferences and training sessions

CPD sessions
are being delivered by webinar only.  Please select the “Attend via webinar” option when registering, or if you were already registered your registration has been automatically transferred to webinar attendance and you will have received an email to advise this.  Should you be unable to attend via webinar please respond to the email in order to obtain a refund.   
 
Committee meetings

No Committee meetings will be held face-to-face, until further notice. Arrangements have been made for Committee meetings
to be postponed, cancelled or held via email or teleconference. 
 
Member social events

All social events have been cancelled or postponed.  Registrants for the events have been contacted by email.
 
External room hire

All room hire bookings have been cancelled and no bookings will be taken until after the end of April (this date subject to review). 
 
Ethics and Practice visits and legal practice advice

Trust Account inspections have been postponed or are being completed remotely, eg via correspondence if appropriate.  The relevant law practices have been separately contacted.
 
Law practices should make arrangements to comply with Australian Government advice in relation to COVID-19 measures, which will depend upon their circumstances If legal practitioners have any concerns about practice arrangements as a result of the spread of COVID-19 please do not hesitate to contact the Ethics and Practice Unit of the Society by phone 8229 0200 or email for advice.
 
GDLP

The Society is following the practice adopted by the University of Adelaide in relation to the teaching of the GDLP Course.
 
Advisory Service

The Advisory Service has been suspended until further notice.

LPEAC Guidelines - Remote Supervision Arrangements for PLT Students and Category C (Restricted) PC Holders during COVID-19 Restrictions

Posted 2 April 2020 

As a result of COVID-19 personal contact restrictions the Legal Practitioners Education and Admissions Council (LPEAC) has both amended the MCPD Scheme requirements and also issued temporary guidelines for the remote supervision of PLT students and Category C (restricted) practising certificate holders as is set out below:

The temporary amendments to the MCPD Scheme include the following:

  • extending the deadline for compliance with the Mandatory Continuing Professional Development requirements for the CPD year commencing on 1 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.


  • removal of the 5 CPD unit maximum limit that ordinarily applies to the viewing or listening to material for, a multi-media, web-based or recorded program.


(Notwithstanding the extension of time practitioners are encouraged to complete their prescribed MCPD as soon as possible (noting that there is no limit on the number of units claimed for pre-recorded or web-based material which can be accessed from home) so as not to delay or impede the renewal of practising certificates on 1 July 2020)

Click here for the guidelines for Remote Supervision of PLT students.

Click here for the guidelines for Remote Supervision of Category C (Restricted) PC holders.

Please send an email to the Ethics and Practice Unit of the Society at ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au if you have any questions, for example if you may need to seek an intimation due to inability to complete MCPD points.  
 



CPD Webinars 

Posted 19 March 2020 

The Law Society is providing all upcoming CPD sessions by webinar.

Assistance available to businesses and Helpline 

Posted 23 March 2020 

Please find attached a Media Release of 22 March 2020 providing an update on the assistance available to businesses impacted by COVID-19 measures. It details the second stage of measures the Government has implemented to keep businesses in business and to keep workers in jobs.

A further Media Release of 23 March 2020 advises the Federal Government’s business helpline for affected small and medium businesses. For information on what support is available to your business, visit the Australian Government’s Business website or contact the hotline on 13 28 46. 

 

Information and resources 


The Australian Government is continually updating its COVID-19 advice, information and resources, COVID-19. We advise Members to check for current information, including at :

or call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

Advice on event and travel cancellations due to COVID-19

Posted 20 March 2020 

Please find attached the latest information and guidance provided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on consumer rights, travel and event cancellations in relation to COVID-19.
 
The ACCC has advised via a media release that if events, flights or other travel services such as cruises are cancelled, it expects refunds or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher will be offered in most circumstances.
Posted 18 March 2020 

Given the recent directions by the courts as to the curtailment of jury trials and limitations on other sorts of hearings due to the COVID-19 situation, the closure of some or all court registries is something which may soon occur.

 
If such closures do occur it is likely there will be little notice able to be given. It is also likely that there will be no certainty as to when the registries will re-open.
 
In these circumstances practitioners should urgently consider whether there are matters with limitation periods expiring in the next 3-4 months where proceedings should be issued immediately so that any possible time limitation issues do not arise.

It has been widely reported that cyber criminals have come up with new scams trying to take advantage of the Covid 19 situation, for example, by sending phishing/malware emails disguised as health updates and the like. Even though practitioners will have a myriad of things to do at the moment, it is no time to let your guard down with respect to cyber security, so all the usual warnings about checking and double checking before clicking on links etc still apply, with even more force at the moment.

In addition, with the expansion of remote working over the last few weeks, which no doubt will only continue, it is important to recognise that the device you use remotely (phone, tablet or laptop) might not have the same security as your main office computer. Before you conduct work on such a device you must ensure that it (as well as your office network of course) is secure. It is also important to be aware that wireless networks present their own security issues (ie public networks are generally not secure) so only use secure wireless networks.

Legal Services Commission arrangements 

Posted 26 March 2020 

The Legal Services Commission has updated its COVID-19 information relating to its services. Updates from the Legal Services Commission can be found on the Commission's website. 


Legal Services Commission arrangements 

Posted 23 March 2020 

The Legal Services Commission is continuing to provide legal assistance, advice, information and representation to the SA community. However, in response to the coronavirus, the Commission has implemented temporary changes to the way it delivers some services.

To reduce the potential transmission of the virus, the Commission is moving away from face-to-face meetings with clients wherever possible and instead providing assistance by phone and online. Information and assistance can be obtained in a number of ways:

  • For free legal advice of a general nature, the Commission can be contacted on 1300 366 424 on workdays between 9am and 4:30pm.
  • To chat online with LSC lawyers during business hours, click the Legal Chat icon on the Commission’s website.
  • The 24Legal service and Law Handbook also provide online answers to a range of common legal questions.

The Commission will continue to provide regular updates to its clients, staff, partners and the public about any significant changes to its services. 

Posted 23 March 2020 

Please find attached correspondence from Relationships Australia advising changes to the Children’s Contact Service, effective immediately. The changes impact the Changeover Service, Supervised Contact Visits and Kids Connect Playgroup.

The way Children’s contact Service delivers services will be continually reviewed and updated over the coming months. 

Professional Standards Scheme 

Posted 24 March 2020

A reminder to all practitioners and firms participating in the Professional Standards Scheme – even if you are remote working you still need to meet the disclosure requirements for the Scheme. This means that all email and written correspondence needs to include the disclosure statement: “Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.” Please add this to your working from home protocols. As always, if you need assistance with this or any other aspect of the Professional Standards Scheme please ring Mia Bell on 8229 0225 or email mia.bell@lawsocietysa.asn.au