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How are legal services being affected?  Well they are.

Privately, law firms are still operating fairly normally, taking appointments, and doing the work.  Precautions are taken to be more vigilant with hygiene, and keeping distance between people.  Some lawyers will work more from home as they can log into the office and work as if we are at their own desk.

The biggest effect of Covid-19 is with the courts.  The courts are still operating (at the moment) as otherwise matters will build up and it would become a nightmare to process them once this is all over.

Jury Trails

Jury trials in criminal matters may be postponed, but normal court matters (usually in the Magistrates Courts that a lot of people with legal issues are before) are dealing with adjournments and short matters first to try and clear the court building of people early on.

Family Court

In the Family Court, parties and lawyers are being encouraged to attend by telephone or videolink for most procedural or short matters, and are staggering the matters time wise, so that instead of everyone in 20 matters turning up at 10am, and waiting until 1pm for all 20 matters to be dealt with, the matters will be staggered so you come at a specified time different to other matters so you don’t have to hang around the court waiting area all morning for your matter to come on.

The Family Court will also be prioritising parenting (children’s) matters over property matters.

There will still be trials, but more acceptance of witnesses giving evidence by electronic means, or even their testimony possibly being prerecorded.

Self Isolate

Of course, people who have to isolate and have an engagement in a court, cannot attend court.  They should ensure that they have a medical certificate to verify their medical condition and the isolation requirement, and email or telephone their lawyer if they have one, and if not, the court, to advise of their situation.

Remember, if you are required to self isolate (for 14 days after returning from overseas, or medically instructed to) and you don’t, someone might dob you in and you would be committing a criminal offence with severe penalties, and don’t think this will not be enforced.

If you are unsure please contact your lawyer.