COVID-19 and masks in court buildings

Posted 28 September 2021 

The following message is distributed at the request of the Chief Justice.

 

Since the lifting of lockdown at midnight on 27 July 2021, the wearing of masks has been mandated in public places, including court buildings. The only exception is at the direction of a judicial officer within a courtroom.

 

His Honour has received reports of members of the legal profession and their clients not wearing masks in court buildings and not complying with lift restrictions. Complacency poses a real threat in dealing with the pandemic. Practitioners are reminded to:

  1. wear a mask at all times in court buildings, unless directed not to by a judicial officer in a courtroom,
  2. comply with restrictions identified for lifts, courtrooms and meeting rooms,
  3. maintain social distancing in public areas, and
  4. make use of hand sanitiser provided at public lifts and in courtrooms

Disposable masks are available from Sheriff s Officers at point of entry.



Family Law Winter Callover

Posted 30 July 2021

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Winter Callover is due to commence next Monday.
Chief Justice Alstergren has advised that due to the current COVID-19 situation, matters will now be heard electronically via Microsoft Teams. To attend your callover hearing electronically, please use the Microsoft Teams invitation link provided in your notice of listing.

Parties are not required to attend the court registry in person.


Essential workers list

Posted 20 July 2021 

At 12.25pm, the SA Police website published the list of essential workers during the Level 5 lockdown period.

The list includes:

court or tribunal services or services provided by similar bodies (such as a commission);
services related to the administration of justice, including functions carried out by the sheriff (and sheriff’s officers) and prison transfers;
essential legal services that are not able to be provided remotely or electronically, including urgent legal matters such as executing a will in person. 

This list is consistent with the essential workers list that was active during the November 2020 snap lockdown, whereby the Society was advised that legal practitioners were not considered essential workers during the lockdown period, but there may be particular circumstances whereby a specific
matter requires discretion to be exercised in that regard.


Court directives operating from 28 July 2021

Posted 28 July 2021 

Practitioners are encouraged to monitor the Courts Administration Authority's Coronavirus COVID-19 Information webpage for the most up to date information and court directives.

Law Society arrangements 

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Society staff are now working from the Law Society of South Australia office and can be contacted as usual via email and telephone, for the usual enquiries and services. 

In line with changes to requirements and recommendations from the State Government, facemasks are required to be worn by all staff and visitors to the office while on premises. CPD sessions will be delivered by webinar and Committee meetings will be held via zoom only.  

These requirements will be regularly reviewed against any changes to SA Government advice, and Members advised of any amendments. 
 
The Society continues to take measures to accord with those recommended by the Australian and South Australian Governments.

Standard contact email addresses for key services are

Ethics Enquiry Service 

Member Services

Litigation Assistance Fund

Law Claims

Murray Law Library

Court Updates and Information webpages 

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Courts Administration Authority Coronavirus COVID-19 Information
  
Supreme Court Civil Enquiries:
p: (08) 8204 0289
supreme.registry@courts.sa.gov.au
  
District Court Civil Enquiries:
p: (08) 8204 0289
district.civil@courts.sa.gov.au
  
Criminal Enquiries
p: (08) 8204 2444
ccrcs@courts.sa.gov.au

ERD Court Enquiries
p: (08) 804 0289
erdcourt@courts.sa.gov.au
  
Magistrates Court
p: (08) 8204 2444
e: enquiry@courts.sa.gov.au
  
Youth Court Criminal matters
p: (08) 82040330
e: youthcourt@courts.sa.gov.au
Care and Protection: careandprotectionyouthcourt@courts.sa.gov.au
   Coroner's Court: p: (08) 8204 0600 coroner@courts.sa.gov.au    CourtSA Registry Services
p: (08) 8204 2444

South Australian Employment Tribunal website

South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal website


COVID-19 and masks in court buildings

Posted 28 September 2021 

The following message is distributed at the request of the Chief Justice.

 

Since the lifting of lockdown at midnight on 27 July 2021, the wearing of masks has been mandated in public places, including court buildings. The only exception is at the direction of a judicial officer within a courtroom.

 

His Honour has received reports of members of the legal profession and their clients not wearing masks in court buildings and not complying with lift restrictions. Complacency poses a real threat in dealing with the pandemic. Practitioners are reminded to:

  1. wear a mask at all times in court buildings, unless directed not to by a judicial officer in a courtroom,
  2. comply with restrictions identified for lifts, courtrooms and meeting rooms,
  3. maintain social distancing in public areas, and
  4. make use of hand sanitiser provided at public lifts and in courtrooms

Disposable masks are available from Sheriff s Officers at point of entry.



Attendances at SAET from 5 August 2021 

Posted 5 August 2021 

As a result of the South Australian Governments directions regarding public activity restrictions, the SAET has adopted revised practices from 5 August 2021, until further notice. 


Matters before District Court Masters from 28 July 2021 

Posted 27 July 2021 

In light of South Australia's emergence from lockdown as of midnight tonight, revised measures will apply to all matters before District Court Masters from 28 July 2021.

The arrangements will apply until restrictions are changed.


Court directives operating from 28 July 2021 

Posted 28 July 2021 

Practitioners are encouraged to monitor the Courts Administration Authority's Coronavirus COVID-19 Information webpage for the most up to date information and court directives.  

Court Updates and Information webpages 

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Federal Circuit Court COVID-19 Updates and Information

Family Court of Australia COVID-19 Updates and Information


Family Law Winter Callover

Posted 30 July 2021

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Winter Callover is due to commence next Monday.

Chief Justice Alstergren has advised that due to the current COVID-19 situation, matters will now be heard electronically via Microsoft Teams. To attend your callover hearing electronically, please use the Microsoft Teams invitation link provided in your notice of listing.

Parties are not required to attend the court registry in person.

Support Links 

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Practitioner support links 

LawCare and support groups 

Ethics Enquiry Service 
Wellbeing & Resilience Resources
Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Wellbeing and support resources 

Beyond Blue 
The national depression initiative website features comprehensive news and information to support mental wellbeing.  Trained Counsellors are available 24/7:  Call 1800 512 348.

Lifeline (13 11 14) 
Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention Services.  If you don’t like talking on the phone you can text 0477 13 11 14 between 5.30pm and 11.30pm when you are feeling depressed, suicidal or in need of support and a Lifeline crisis supporter will text with you.  

State Government care and support resources 
Various links to resources for assistance with accessing health services; food and necessities; mental health support and more. 


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.

Guide to use of Video-Link under the Evidence Convention

Posted 20 April 2020 


The Hague Conference of Private International Law has made its Guide to Good Practice on the Use of Video-Link under the Evidence Convention available free of charge. 
Download the guide.


How are you? No, how are you really?

THE QUESTION:

How are you? No, how are you really?

Exhausted? Agitated? A bit down? Are you finding it hard to get to sleep or to switch off from work? Read More (Members Only)...

Ethical obligations during lockdown 

Posted 23 July 2021 

Lockdown has once again forced the practitioners to rapidly adapt to the way they serve their clients.

Even though many practices would have fine-tuned transitional plans that allow them to quickly move to a working from home environment, the lockdown can still pose a number of challenges for practitioners who still have stringent ethical obligations to comply with but have extra lockdown-related barriers to contend with.

The key message is that practitioners need to be mindful of how they can continue to comply with their obligations in their particular circumstances.

How you comply with any professional obligation will depend on things like the resources available to you, the nature of the matter, what orders have been made and applicable time limits, availability of alternatives for attending court and obtaining client instructions in person. You should satisfy yourself that the steps taken by you in client matters permit you to observe your professional obligations under all of the circumstances.

Practitioners are further encouraged to not only consider all available options and but also to ensure that the decided course of action is reasonable in the particular context. We would encourage the making and keeping contemporaneous notes of those decision-making processes for risk management purposes.

Although the Society does not have the power to excuse compliance with statutory or professional obligations, if you are unsure about your compliance obligations in a particular circumstance you are invited to contact Ethics and Practice for assistance either by phone (8229 0200) or by email.

Administration of Justice

In the same way that your professional obligations remain so does your primary obligation to the administration of justice. The key is to identify the difficulties that are in play and then to find alternative means by which they can be overcome.

If for example an order has been made for something to be done within a certain time frame or in a certain way, and you have exhausted all reasonable alternatives for complying with the order and are still unable to do so, we recommend that you notify the Court and the other side (making sure that you observe any applicable rules for doing so) at the earliest possible opportunity and ask for direction on how to proceed.

Clients’ Interests

What will not change is your obligation to ensure that your clients’ interests are protected. The issues that may arise will vary, depending on the type of work, legal services being provided, your client- base, and the particular rules and procedures that apply to the matters in which you are engaged.

These factors will influence any decision to operate your practice in isolation. We strongly encourage practitioners to take all reasonable steps to inform clients about any changes to the operation of the practice and the means by which contact with them is to be maintained.

Informed clients are generally less likely to complain.

Despite the difficulties facing practitioners we encourage and reinforce the importance for you to continue to deliver legal services as promptly and diligently as reasonably possible in the circumstances.

Your obligation of competence still requires you to be aware of timeframes and limitations which may exist in a client matter and are required to be fulfilled to protect the clients’ interests.

Again, careful documentation of all relevant factors is important from a risk management point of view and in addition there is a standing invitation to have a conversation with Ethics and Practice if required.

Confidentiality

Now more than ever we encourage practitioners to consider the effectiveness of their measures for protecting confidential client information where people are going to be working from home. It is still important that client confidentiality is not compromised by the need to work remotely. Most practices will already have in place arrangements to protect client information for remote workers. This could include providing limited information to those workers who do not usually work from home and may not have access to secure IT or other adequate equipment.

For instance, you may consider redacting information shared with home workers in that situation. It is a good idea to document the details of the arrangements you have put in place to keep client’s information confidential. You should also consider raising the issues with clients so they are aware work is happening outside the office and what safeguards you have put in place. This gives clients the opportunity to raise objections if they have concerns.

There is no change in our advice re cyber security and all usual cyber safety measures should still be followed. Never provide or receive bank account details via email. When dealing with clients by phone, and visual is not available, satisfy yourself that you are actually speaking to your client. If you do not recognise their voice you could ask them to confirm what you discussed at the last meeting or consultation, or to tell you the date and location of that meeting.

Alternatively, you could allocate code words to clients for use when communication by phone and/or by email. When communicating by phone with clients you cannot control the environment, they are in but it is useful to just remind them of the importance of maintaining confidentiality and encourage them to take the call away from others if necessary.

REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

Supervision

It is important that employers and principles implement effective means by which they can continue to supervise legal work.

Matters to be addressed for remote supervision include the following:

  • Frequency of contact between the supervisor and the supervised person.
  • Awareness of the supervisor about the work being done by the supervised person.
  • The ability for the supervisor to exercise the requisite degree of management or control over the work being done by the supervised person.
  • The ability for the supervisor to otherwise guide and mentor the supervised person.
  • The ability for the supervisor to satisfy themselves that correspondence and advice is well founded, endorsed, and capable being signed off.

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

Ethics and Practice visits and legal practice advice

Trust Account inspections will be postponed or completed remotely, eg via correspondence if appropriate. The relevant law practices will be separately contacted.

For enquiries with regard to:

Execution of Wills during COVID-19
LSSA Standard Property Documents - COVID-19 Annexure
Video Conferencing during COVID-19
Witnessing of affidavits and statutory declarations and Grants of Probate during COVID-19

Or 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 (ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au) for advice and assistance.

Practitioners are also encouraged to refer to Society’s COVID-19 webpage for further information and support.


LPEAC Remote Supervision of Practitioners Subject to Supervised Practice (Category C PC) During Covid-19 Restrictions

Posted 22 July 2021 
 
Please click here to review the Guide 
Please click here to download a suggested Remote Supervision Diary Template.
 
If you have further questions please email us at ethicsandpractice@lawsocietysa.asn.au  

Financial support resources 

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Australian Government information to support to small businesses

Australian Government information to support individuals and households 

ATO information about taxation arrangements for those working from home  The Prime Minister's media release "Commonwealth income support on the way for SA hotspots" - 20 July 2021 

Financial support for businesses & workers

Posted 23 July 2021 

The State Government has announced cash grants for businesses significantly affected by the seven-day lockdown.

SMEs may be available for a $3000 cash grant, while businesses that do not employ staff may be eligible for $1000.

Support for regional workers

The State Government has also announced income support payments pf up to $600 for regional workers who live or work outside the Federal Government’s declared “hotspot” zone.

State Government business support grants – How to register
Federal Government COVID-19 disaster payment – How to apply 
Financial support for individuals - more information
Read the Premier’s media release
South Australia Police COVID-19 Information
A list of official SAPOL information including South Australian Directions, media releases and important contacts. 

SA Health - Latest COVID-19 updates
Links to the latest official SA Health COVID-19 news, exposure sites and updates for South Australia.

Land Services SA COVID-19 lockdown arrangements

Posted 28 July 2021 

Land Services SA will be re-opening their Office to the public from 9:00 am on Wednesday 28 July 2021.

Drop & Go activities and Face-to-Face Lodgement services which were temporarily unavailable during lockdown will be reinstated as of 9:00 am Wednesday 28 July 2021.
  
Further details are set out in Customer Information Bulletin #361.

Criminal proceedings during lockdown

Posted 21 July 2021  

The Magistrates Court has issued directives for criminal proceedings from 21 July. View the directions here.
 
Visit the following links to view directives for:
1. Supreme Court
2. Magistrates Court
3. Adelaide Youth Court 
4. Coroners Court

Defendants in custody

The Chief Magistrate has advised the Department of Correctional Services has advised they will be unable to bring defendants in custody to court for hearings or trials during the Level 5 lockdown restrictions (as the threat to the overall prison population is too great). 

Therefore any trials in the Magistrates Court that have a defendant in custody will need to be vacated and relisted as soon as possible. Other hearings will need to be arranged by AVL.  

Practitioners are encouraged to monitor the Courts Administration Authority's Coronavirus COVID-19 Information webpage for the most up to date information and court directives.

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 and COVID-19 Vaccine 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.

Video Conferencing 

Posted 8 April 2020 

With the move to remote working and physical distancing, the rise in the use of video conferencing software platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Skype has highlighted the potential cyber security challenges that organisations face in using these platforms securely. Zoom in particular Read More (Members Only)...

 

Cyber Security

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, 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.