Summary of the latest COVID-19 news for lawyers
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.
- Chief Justice, Dame Helen Winkelmann provides further guidance on how the courts are operating under alert level 4 and looks ahead to how the courts will operate in the short to medium term under alert restrictions.
- The Employment Court has provided updates about court protocol.
- For the most up-to-date information on the Courts, please refer to their website.
Travel during COVID-19 Level 4
- Lawyers will have received an email during the week of 6 April confirming that they hold a current practising certificate from the Law Society. This is to ensure that they are able to undertake travel in order to provide certain legal services that are considered essential. The Secretary for Justice has written to the Law Society outlining that the Courts and tribunals of New Zealand are considered essential businesses. If you have not received the “Confirmation of being a practising lawyer” letter that was emailed to all lawyers, please email Covidemail@example.com for a replacement letter. The Ministry of Justice has also provided guidance on essential travel
Updates for Practise Areas
- The Ministry of Justice has provided guidance for lawyers for residential property settlements during COVID-19
- Inland Revenue are seeking tax proposals/measures in response to COVID-19. IR have prepared a template to assist with responses. The Law Society’s Tax Law Committee is considering their response; if you would like to contribute comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to provide direct feedback to IR email email@example.com with the subject line ‘Possible COVID-19 tax measure’.
- The Chief Executive of Corrections, Jeremy Lightfoot, has outlined Corrections’ approach to statutory visitors during COVID-19 Alert Level 4. The Department of Corrections has updated their list of prison email addresses to help facilitate lawyers’ correspondence with clients in prison.
- The Employment Relations Authority has provided further information on arrangements it has made to deal with applications and investigations during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions. It says its update issued on 24 March remains current. The new information is here.
- Our Family Law Section’s newsletter includes guidance on shared parenting under COVID-19 level 4. Updates on the swearing of affidavits, proposed amendment to Family Court Rules and legislation and details about family dispute resolution are covered in an earlier Family Law Section newsletter.
Law Society activities
- The Law Society has written to the Hon Simon Bridges MP in his role as Chair of the Epidemic Response Select Committee offering assistance with its work in responding to the management of COVID-19.
- The Law Society’s Immigration and Refugee Law Committee has written to Immigration New Zealand, regarding issues relating to visas during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa and the New Zealand Bar Association have joined forces to help Community Law Centres o Aotearoa to provide pro bono support for people with urgent COVID-19 related issues to those who cannot afford legal advice. If you have the relevant expertise and are willing and able, please fill out this expression of interest form provided by the NZ Bar Association. Lawyers who would like to offer pro bono support can find guidance in our practice briefings on Guidance for Lawyers undertaking pro bono work and Limited Retainer.
Last updated on the 9th April 2020