Monday, 24 January 2022
Covid-19 update for the ACT legal profession
The Law Society is monitoring the current situation, and will update this page as new information becomes available.
Please note that from midnight on Tuesday 21 December, mask wearing will once again be mandatory in indoor settings (including offices) in the ACT. Read More +
Members should follow guidance from the ACT Government, and continue to use the ACT Government's Check In CBR App. Members are encouraged to refer to the following resources:
- ACT Government Covid-19 website
- Australian Government Department of Health
- Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws
- Vaccination status guidance for business
ACT Law Society updates
For the continued protection of staff and others, visitors to the ACT Law Society must still check in using the Check in CBR app. Visitors should also continue to maintain appropriate physical distancing, comply with displayed density limits, use the available hand sanitiser, and are kindly asked to wear a mask when in the public area.
Any person who is unwell with any cold or flu like symptoms, no matter how mild and whether vaccinated or not, is asked not to attend the office.
- Committee meetings will continue to be held online until 2022.
- Pro Bono Clearing House meetings will be held online where possible.
Restrictions affecting legal practice
Practitioners will be aware that legal services can resume in a Covid safe way. The ACT government has published its pathway out of lockdown, including guidance for business, on its website at www.covid19.act.gov.au. We recommend monitoring the Business FAQs on this website, which are regularly updated. Law firms should have regard to the general guidance for business on the website applying from 15 October. Members should regularly consult the public health directions and www.covid19.act.gov.au website to stay up to date with their responsibilities.
- ACT Government: Business and community restrictions list
- ACT Public Health Directions
- Access Canberra Business Liaison Line (02) 6205 0900
- COVID-19 helpline (02) 6207 7244 from 8am-8pm daily
The Settlements Office will continue to operate in a Covid safe manner and having regard to Public Health Directions. The following rules will be in effect at the Settlements Office from Monday 15 November:
- The building will be open to the public.
- The office is working on the basis of one person per 2 square metres, meaning the number of users is limited to a maximum of 50 at any time.
- Any person entering the office is required to check in on entry using the Check in CBR app, and must use the provided hand sanitiser. For ease of check-in, QR codes are displayed at the entry and on every table in the office.
- Given the face to face transactional nature of the space, all users of the office must continue to wear a mask at all times ;and should maintain a 1.5m physical distance between them, having regard to the current public health directions.
- Users of the office must wipe down touch points after each transaction, including desktops and chair arms. Hand sanitiser and antiseptic wipes have been provided for this purpose.
- Any user who is unwell with any cold or flu like symptoms, no matter how mild and whether vaccinated or not, must not attend the office – they should stay home and get tested for COVID-19 and do not return to the office until a negative test is received.
- Anyone who has been to an identified case location must not attend the office and should follow health directions for isolation and testing.
- All users should continue to monitor and comply with updates to the restrictions on the ACT Health Covid-19 website.
Events, including Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
The safety of our members and staff is our biggest priority. We will be following ACT Health guidelines, including QR code sign-ins, mask-wearing, social distancing, and surface cleaning between events. If you have any questions or concerns please contact our Professional Development & Events Officer, Liz Francis, on email@example.com.
Mental health support
We want to remind members that they can contact our EAP, Acacia Connection, for support at any time. Phone 1300 364 273 (24/7) or visit their website for online options at acaciaconnection.com.
You can also call the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service on 1800 512 348 or Lifeline on 131114.
Useful guidance notes
Remote working and confidentiality. Guidance for law practices on supervision of staff working remotely and ensuring confidentiality of client information. [read more]
Does the Check in CBR app breach lawyer/client confidentiality? The Legal Profession Act & Ethics Committee has prepared some advice to help firms and practitioners who may have questions about the interaction between Covid-19 check in requirements and their client confidentiality obligations. [read more]
Tips for managing the legal workforce as COVID-19 restrictions ease in the ACT. The Law Society’s Industrial Relations Committee has published a guide to help ACT law firms with HR questions related to work health and safety, returning to work, and work from home requirements. [read more]
ACT Community Legal Centres
ACT Community Legal Centres are continuing to deliver essential legal assistance and other support to the most vulnerable members of the Canberra community during the current COVID-19 outbreak. All ACT Community Legal Services are currently delivering services by phone, video or online.
- Canberra Community Law have launched a website covering common legal areas that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: Canberra COVID-19 Legal Help
ACT Corrective Services
Limited face-to-face social visits are due to recommence at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC).
- 20/12/21: Notice to Visitors 09/2021 - Social Visits Arrangements
- Visit ACT Corrective Services for the latest news
ACT Courts and Tribunal
The ACT Supreme Court has delayed the return to in-person appearances until further notice. All apperances will continue by AVL where appropriate.
For the most up to date information about court operations, please visit their respective news pages:
- ACT Supreme Court — Response to the COVID-19 Virus
- ACT Magistrates Court — Response to the COVID-19 Virus
- ACAT — Changes due to COVID-19
Court-specific Practice Directions and special COVID-19 measures are set out below.
- 11/1/22: Delay in Resumption of In-Person Court Appearances
- 10/1/22: Order for ACAT's premises under Section 50 of the Court Procedures Act 2004 (ACT)
- 30/11/21: Return to Magistrates Court Operations
- 15/11/21: Orders under section 50 of the Court Procedures Act 2004 (ACT) set out requirements for entering the ACT Law Courts precinct
- 1/11/21: Listings and Appearance Arrangements Form
- 29/10/21: Staged return to Supreme Court operations
- 12/8/21: Special Measures COVID-19: Probate matters
- Attending a court hearing remotely
- WebEx - Guide for Witnesses
High Court of Australia
The High Court building is open only when the Court is sitting and hearings can be attended if permitted by current COVID-19 restrictions. If you have business with the Court in Canberra please contact the Registry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 02 6270 6857.
- Latest news: High Court of Australia
- Protocol for practitioners participating in Video Connection Hearings
- 23/3/20: Practice Direction No.1 of 2020 - Electronic filing of documents - cases commenced before 1 January 2020
Federal Court of Australia
There will be no face-to-face services in court registries (except WA), unless otherwise approved by the Head of Jurisdiction.
- Latest news: Federal Court of Australia
- 24/1/22: Online and telephone services only for all court registries (except WA)
- 29/4/21: Special Measures Information Note: Appeals and Full Court hearings (SMIN-5)
- 7/4/20: Special Measures Information Note 3: Appeals and Full Court hearings
- 2/4/20: Guide to virtual hearings and Microsoft Teams
- 31/3/20: Special Measures Information Note (SMIN-1) (updated)
- 31/3/20: Migration matters in the Commonwealth Courts Portal
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
- Latest news: Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia
- 17/1/22: FCFCOA Special Measures Information Notice: COVID-19 Hearing protocol (updated)
- 2/9/21: FCFCOA Practice Direction – COVID-19 Special Measures
- 2/9/21: FCFCOA Special Measures Information Notice – COVID-19 Electronic Subpoena Inspection
- 15/6/21: COVID-19: Important information for migration applicants (updated)