Lawyers-in-waiting in the three most populous jurisdictions are set to miss out on admission ceremonies in the coming weeks and months, in the wake of COVID-19.
Across the country, Supreme Courts are postponing admission ceremonies in conjunction with their respective state and territory legal admission authorities in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with other jurisdictions evaluating their plans moving forward.
In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, a spokesperson for the ACT Supreme Court confirmed that no admission ceremonies are currently set to be cancelled, as none are imminent, however the status of the next scheduled ceremony – to be held on Thursday, 17 April 2020 – may change depending on developments of the pandemic.
The Supreme Court of NSW has cancelled all admission ceremonies that were scheduled for Friday, 27 March 2020.
“While any inconvenience caused by the cancellation is sincerely regretted, this decision reflects the current health advice for protecting the wellbeing of all involved in the ceremonies,” the state’s Legal Professions Admissions Board said in a statement.
“The Office of the LPAB will issue instructions by email to all admittees who had a ceremony booking for 27 March, to explain the steps they will need to follow in order to complete the formalities of their admission on that date, and to receive their Certificates of Admission as soon as possible.
“At this stage, bookings for admission ceremonies scheduled for May and July 2020 are continuing as usual.”
The next admission ceremony in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory is scheduled to be held on 5 May 2020, a spokesperson told Lawyers Weekly.
“At this point in time, there is only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Northern Territory. While measures have been implemented for the conduct of matters by audiovisual link where possible and practicable, the Supreme Court schedule remains unchanged at this stage,” the spokesperson said.
“Both the Supreme Court judiciary and court services are monitoring the situation and the advice from government medical services. Changes to the current listing schedule will be made should that become necessary.”
There will be no admission ceremonies in Brisbane “in the coming months”, the Supreme Court of Queensland has proclaimed.
In a statement issued yesterday, the court said: “Applications for admission will be dealt with in almost all cases on the papers, so that no representation in court is required. Applicants’ presence in court will be required in order to comply with the rules and to allow them to take their oaths of allegiance and of office and sign the roll. For that purpose, only applicants will be allowed into the courtroom.”
“If any candidate would prefer not to proceed on this basis, they should request an adjournment, which will be given to a date to be fixed after court resumes standard operations.
“When courts resume normal operations, all practitioners admitted in these circumstances will be offered the opportunity to take part in a welcoming ceremony attended by family and friends.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Law Society of South Australia said that the status of admission ceremonies is “under review”, and that the state’s Courts Admission Authority will make a determination shortly.
With regard to admission applications, the South Australia Law Society has asked that those seeking admission do not attend the society’s offices to hand in documentation, noting that applications will be temporarily checked and accepted via an online portal.
A spokesperson for the Legal Profession Board Tasmania told Lawyers Weekly that the status of admission ceremonies is “not something we’ve turned our mind to”, given that the next scheduled ceremony is on 21 August 2020. This, of course, may change depending on the spread of the pandemic.
Until further notice, there will be no admission ceremonies in the garden state.
In a statement, the Supreme Court of Victoria said the state’s Legal Admissions Board (VLAB) is contacting all those who were due to be admitted in three separate ceremonies this week.
“We understand this will also impact members of the Victorian Bar and the profession more broadly, who were scheduled to move those admissions, together with the families and friends of the new lawyers,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.
“This precautionary decision has been made after consideration of the latest expert health and government advice and recognises that members of the community may hold concerns about attending court in large groups.
“Until further information is made available to the Victorian Legal Admissions Board, we are unable to provide any additional updates at this time. This may in turn have an impact on the April ceremonies and beyond.”
The Legal Practice Board of Western Australia said it is “awaiting a directive” from the state’s Supreme Court with regard to the next admission ceremony, currently slated for Friday, 3 April. The Western Australia Supreme Court did not provide any information despite multiple requests.