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WA legal community to play crucial role during COVD-19

With the legal profession taking major impacts across the country from COVID-19, the Western Australia legal community says their role is now more crucial than ever before.

user iconTony Zhang 17 April 2020 Big Law
Nicholas van Hattem
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Attorney-General John Quigley has acknowledged the important work of the profession and its members, saying in correspondence: “I have no doubt that [law aociety] members are providing essential services to the community during this difficult time”.

The Western Australian government’s Prohibition on Regional Travel Directions has provided that people performing an essential service include those with specialist skills “required for industry or business continuity and maintenance of competitive operation, where the service is time-critical” and “any judicial officer or staff member of a court, tribunal or commission.”

This would mean that lawyers in Western Australia now have a more than essential role to play during this pandemic, according to Nicholas van Hattem, president of the Law Society of Western Australia.

 
 

“While we have seen so much change, our professional duties to provide vital, time-critical advice remain. During this pandemic, the work of lawyers is as important as ever,” he said.

Mr Quigley had said that the current global health crisis has given rise to new legal problems for many Western Australians.

“The current global health crisis and subsequent economic challenges have given rise to new legal problems for many Western Australians,” Mr Quigley said.

“Employment law problems, difficulties [in] paying mortgages, greater physical and financial abuse of the elderly, hire purchase and loan issues, and immigration and visa matters are all emerging as very real problems in our community.”

Mr Quigley confirmed the number of appointments being made available in areas of high need, including employment law, mortgage hardship, elder abuse, consumer protection, credit and debt and financial hardship, have been increased. The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to see a rise in the number of incidents of family violence across Australia, with Western Australian Police reporting an increase of 11 domestic violence incidents each day. 

To meet these new challenges, Mr Van Battem said that the Western Australian legal system is proving to be innovative, where courts, firms and individual lawyers are all finding new ways to ensure our important work continues.

Furthermore, as the legal community faces the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers need to continue to play a vital role in the administration of justice.

“Law [society] members are reporting increased queries from the community in diverse areas of law, including, family law and wills, employment law, leases, commercial law, property law, insurance and superannuation,” Mr Van Battem said.

“Significant changes are occurring each day. Lawyers have been closely considering these changes, and can likely provide crucial advice to businesses and individuals.