Measures to support the profession

18/03/2020

COVID-19: A message from President Tim Game SC

We are presently experiencing an extraordinarily difficult time in our community. It presents unprecedented challenges for Barristers. Members of our community (the healthy and the ill) will expect to have access to justice and the due administration of justice requires they have such access. The work of barristers is intrinsically tied to the proper administration of justice. Courts, tribunals and the community have an expectation that barristers will continue to abide by their duty to the administration of justice. In all of this, however, given the current pandemic and emergency measures, your health, the health of your families, the health of the judiciary, court staff and members of the public is also paramount. I reiterate my prior announcements in this respect. Should any members fall within COVID-19 risk categories subject to isolation measures, these must take precedence and necessary steps should be abided by, with the court being informed remotely of the circumstances.

The various courts and tribunals have taken different measures to manage the ever changing and unprecedented challenges. The Bar Association will shortly summarise the position of each Court and Tribunal. I encourage each of you to review the position of each Court and Tribunal, and be pragmatic but also candid in your dealings with those Courts and Tribunals as to what can realistically be achieved. The Courts and Tribunals rely upon our pragmatism and candour to assist them in serving the community.

We will keep you informed as to all developments as we know them, but we should all operate on the basis that overall Courts and Tribunals are seeking to proceed with cases with a good deal of adaption to maximise the protection from the spread of COVID-19. Courts and Tribunals will give weight to the administration of justice together with the safety of all practitioners, court staff and the community. The association continues to liaise with the courts in the interests of its members in this respect.

I acknowledge that for each of you in your own way this is a period of great disruption. Not all cases may proceed as scheduled or at all. Work that you had planned on performing or income that you were expecting may be at risk, or already gone. You may have to make decisions to work remotely. I acknowledge that this comes at a personal and professional cost. I wish to assure you that the Bar Association will do everything it can to support you during this difficult time. In particular:

  • We are looking into various measures as to financial relief for our members, particularly for junior and also our senior members affected by recent announcements. We are exploring all options including:

As to payment of practising certificate fees;

Dealing with Heads of Chambers to address floor fees and rents, and we encourage you to do the same;

Dealings with Government and agencies to extend small business relief to Barristers; and

The ability of the Benevolent Fund to support Barristers with immediate financial needs

  • The Bar Association will keep you informed as to what procedures are being taken by different Courts and Tribunals, we will summarise this for you shortly;

  • If you need any guidance as to what you need to do in any particular situation, please contact the members of the Executive or senior members of Bar Council for assistance;

  • Barristers who find themselves in distressing circumstances are encouraged to contact Bar Care.

I will provide updates as events unfold.


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