As the lockdowns of Greater Sydney and some regions continue, naturally there are degrees of uncertainty. However, having spoken to the heads of jurisdiction, a number of our members and the Law Society, I am certain of our resilience and the good faith shown by the whole legal profession in continuing to serve the administration of justice.
The Bar Council Executive is meeting with heads of chambers tomorrow afternoon, principally to obtain wider information and feedback from the membership. I would encourage members to raise any particular issues with their head of chambers beforehand.
Again, reports indicate that on the whole the courts and the profession have smoothly returned to the approaches taken last year at the height of the pandemic regarding remote and safe socially distanced in person hearings. Our protocols are available here.
As members would be aware, the NSW and Commonwealth Governments have announced a number of COVID-19 financial assistance packages. A summary of the following packages, which may have some application to members and chambers, has been prepared:
• NSW Government COVID-19 Business Grant (open for applications now);
• NSW Government JobSaver Program (open for applications from late July);
• NSW Government COVID-19 micro-business support grant (open for applications from late July); and
• Commonwealth Government COVID-19 Disaster Payment (open for applications now).
The summary, which contains links to application and registration pages where available and contains information on eligibility criteria and other relevant information, is available here.
The summary is intended as a guide only and members and chambers should make their own enquiries regarding the application of the various packages to their particular circumstances.
In relation to leases, the NSW Government is offering land tax concessions to landlords, if they pass through the savings to a tenant that occupies the taxed land. It may be that some chambers can raise this with their landlord - see this link, in particular case study 2.
The Association would like to thank Jeh Coutinho, Clerk of Banco Chambers and Mr Ernest Chunge of CharterNet Advisers for their assistance in preparing the summary and links.
I would encourage members to continue to work effectively within the current restraints, and, if there are issues with technology and remote hearings, to take advantage of the Association’s Innovation and Technology Committee’s technical support facility at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, barristers who are in need of confidential assistance and support are encouraged to contact BarCare. The Bar Association is here to assist members with personal or professional difficulties that they may be experiencing in this challenging period, including financial strains. Hardship applications can be made to the Barristers Benevolent Fund.
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