COVID-19 tax relief measures
COVID-19: A message from President Tim Game SC
PwC Australia has provided the Australian Bar Association with a very useful high-level summary of tax issues associated with the spread of COVID-19 as they may apply to barristers and includes tax support measures and administrative relief available to barristers. The advice is general in nature and we draw your attention to the disclaimers contained in the summary. I would emphaise however that each ABA member must take into account their own circumstances and seek their own specific advice as required.
The Bar Association is also preparing a summary of stimulus package measures that will be available to chambers and members which we hope to have ready in the next few days.
Supreme Court – Procedure for Civil Matters
I have today received a communication from the Chief Justice in which he brought the Bar Association up to date as to how civil matters are proceeding in his court. He also brought attention to the fact that the court is endeavouring to hear all civil matters which can be heard subject to the inevitable difficulties involved in the use of the available remote technology.
So far as those difficulties with video facilities are concerned, the Chief Justice noted that the current problems being experienced are to a significant degree due to limits on the capacity of the server through which video hearings are conducted to service the current level of demand, and that endeavours are currently being made to extend its capacity and limit the demand by listing matters by way of staggered hearings.
On a positive note, the Chief Justice has advised that the court, with the co-operation of the profession which is appreciated by the court, has in fact managed to dispose of a great proportion of the civil matters which have been listed, including the hearing of all listed civil appeals as of 1 April 2020.
Available information indicates that similar levels of disposal are being achieved in the District Court.
Resolution of criminal cases
As mentioned in In Brief earlier today, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has released a letter to concerned parties including the Bar Association regarding COVID-19 and progression and early resolution of criminal cases.
In her letter the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions notes that, in the context of the criminal justice system, of most impact has been the suspension of the commencement of new jury trials. The CDPP have advised that they propose to actively prepare and run legal arguments where that is able to be facilitated by the courts. The CDPP is also ready, willing and able to engage in processes aimed at achieving either a resolution of the entire case, or a narrowing of the issues that ultimately need to be litigated, and CDPP solicitors have been asked to review current cases to identify those which have such potential.
The CDPP is aware of the difficulties being faced by some members of the Criminal Bar at this difficult time, and is looking at how it can best utilise all its resources, including the private Bar, as it develops future work flows. The Director has recognised the crucial role of the private Bar in the criminal justice system and has undertaken that her Office will do all it can to assist in the current circumstances.
The Bar Association has also been in contact today with the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, senior officers in his Department and the Acting Senior Crown Prosecutor, who have given similar reassurances. We are in productive and continuing communication with them to progress matters where realistic and possible within the current restrictions, and with sensitivity to the challenges being experienced by members of the community and the profession at this time. Those discussions are ongoing and I will provide a further update in the coming days.
COVID - 19 : Information for Attending Court
The New South Wales Bar Association’s consolidated guide to COVID-19-related court arrangements has today again been updated in terms of recent developments and includes:
District Court of NSW - Update on contact details for bail variations;
The Chief Magistrate’s Memorandum No 8 – Covid-19 Arrangements - Reviews of Bail, which is intended to clarify Paragraph 13 of the Chief Magistrate’s Memorandum dated 24 March 2020 "Listing Adjustments during COVID-19 Pandemic"; and
E-bulletin No 101 - April 2020 from the President of the Workers Compensation Commission.
Members are advised in this regard that, although the Bar Association is regularly updating the COVID-19 page of its website as information comes to hand, please refer to the latest court resources directly as developments are changing quickly at this time. Do not make any assumptions regarding your case without first doing so. Links to the various court and tribunal pages are provided in the body of the guide.
If you no longer wish to receive In Brief, please notify the Bar Association's Certification Officer