News

Memo From the President – Government Directions

Dear Managing Partner

Last night the Director of Public Health published two directions under the Public Health Act 1997, to give effect to the government’s earlier announcements about new COVID-19 restrictions. Each direction will affect the conduct of legal practice. The directions are attached to this memorandum. (see below)

Direction to Remain at Primary Residence

The first direction is directed at individuals.

  • Subject to any other law or legal instrument, each person must remain in or on the person’s primary residence unless leaving for the purpose of:
    • Shopping for supplies or services that are lawfully operating while the direction is in force
    • Providing social support, or care, to another person
    • Attending work, if unable to be performed at the person’s primary residence
    • Attending another location if the person has a reasonable excuse, in the opinion of the Director of Public Health to attend

Direction Regarding Gatherings

The second is directed at owners, controllers and operators of premises, who:

  • Must not allow a gathering of three or more indoors or outdoors
  • A person must not organise or attend a gathering of three or more
  • The restrictions apply to public or private premises
  • The above does not include gatherings:
    • At an office building…that is necessary for the normal operation of those premises
    • At premises operated for commercial or other purposes, other than residential premises if-
      • The gathering is necessary for the normal business at the premises; and
      • Each person on the premises complies with paragraphs (g) and (h)
        • (g) where safe and practicable, each person must maintain a distance of no less than 1.5 metres between the person and any other person
        • (h) in any gathering, the total number of persons present in any single undivided space, at the same time, must not exceed the number calculated by dividing the total area of the space used, as measured in square metres, by 4
    • At premises where services are provided, other than the services specified in Schedule 2, if –
      • The gathering is necessary for the normal provision of those services; and
      • Each person on the premises complies with paragraphs (g) and (h) while on the premises
    • At a court or tribunal
    • At a prison, correctional facility, youth justice centre or other place of custody
    • Gathering does not include a gathering of persons for the purposes of facilitating shared custody arrangements, guardianship or other care arrangements
    • Persons at the premised for the purpose of delivering…urgent legal services, to a person at the premises

Summary

  • Gatherings of three or more people are not allowed

However:

  • Practitioners can attend work if unable to be performed at their primary residence
  • Clients can leave their primary residence to attend firms for the provision of services
  • Three or more people can gather, for example for a settlement, (provided social distancing is exercised) where the gathering is necessary for normal business at the premises or for the normal provision of the service being provided at the premises
  • Facilitating shared custody arrangements, guardianship or other care arrangements are not gatherings
  • Gathering does not include the delivery of urgent legal services

Crystal Garwood

President

cgarwoodlst@dblaw.com.au

31 March 2020