Summary of COVID-related news for the law profession
The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa is reviewing the Coronavirus situation on a daily basis and will provide regular updated advice from reputable sources for the law profession. A special website section has been set up and is kept updated.
Below is a summary of the latest news relevant to the legal profession.
- Letter from the Solicitor-General – COVID-19: Update on certain criminal justice processes. The letter of 15 April provides further information following a letter included in our COVID-19 summary on Thursday 9 April. The new letter provides context for the earlier correspondence and includes a copy of a letter sent to public prosecutors providing an update on changes since 7 April. This covers certain criminal justice processes, i.e. bail, including electronically monitored bail, transport and emergency accommodation.
- Access to clients in custody: The Department of Corrections has provided information on changes in the process for lawyers to access their clients in custody while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
- The High Court (COVID-19 Preparedness) Amendment Rules 2020 were notified in the Gazette on 9 April 2020 and are now in force. These Amendment Rules aim to ensure that civil justice remains accessible during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Law Society (with input from its Civil Litigation & Tribunals Committee) provided feedback to the Rules Committee regarding proposed amendments to the Rules during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Amendment Rules have since been considered and approved by both the Covid-19 Ministerial Group and the Executive Council. An official copy of the Amendment Rules is now available on the NZ Legislation website.
The Rules Committee has also prepared an explainer to the profession which can be found on the Courts of NZ website.
- The Employment Court has updated its COVID-19 Protocol Under Alert Level 4
For the most up-to-date information on the Courts, please refer to their website.
Updates for Practise Areas
- Our Property Law Section has been working with the Ministry of Justice to develop guidance around issues affecting commercial leases and mortgages.
The Ministry’s commercial property guidance for lawyers is on their website. Our Property Law Section newsletter on this issue is here.
An NZLS CLE webinar on commercial lease disputes is available online
- Our Regulatory team have shared some guidance on vigilance for fraud and scams.
- Inland Revenue has provided information for businesses regarding tax payments.
Law Society Activities
Free webinar: hear directly from the Chief Justice and Heads of Bench
We invite you to join our free COVID-19 Access to Justice webinar on the operation of the courts this Friday 17 April from 2-3.30pm. Law Society President Tiana Epati will be joined by the Chief Justice, the Chief High Court Judge, the Chief High Court Judge designate, the Chief District Court Judge, Justice Miller (the Chair of the Judicial Steering Group) and the Principal Family Court Judge for this Q and A session.
You can register for the webinar here. Please note that registrations close at 12pm Friday 17 April. We are unable to accept late registrations for this webinar.
Last updated on the 16th April 2020