How does Covid-19 impact on legal services and the law
Although undoubtedly, the present restrictions on human contact and movement are having an unpresented impact upon Australia’s economic prosperity and these same factors are undoubtedly impacting also on many people from a mental health perspective. For the most part, none of these restrictions should effect the way the law or the delivery of legal services have operated and/or apply.
Family Law Cases
The Chief Justice of the Family Court has issued a public announcement that unless a particular family is actually suffering a Covid-19 infection, the Court expects that pre-existing arrangements for the share of care and decisions making for the children should continue on unaffected. The existing family law principles already are flexible enough to adapt to a world where the value of businesses, stock market investments, superannuation and/or Real Estate are undergoing dramatic fluctuations as a consequence of broad base external factors as was previously seen with events such as the property boom in the late 90’s early 2000’s and the consequent global financial crisis of 2008. Otherwise, the Family Court itself is still very much open for business and is presently running all of its cases via telephone and video link. All court documents are now being filed via the Court’s online portal, a system which has been up and running now for several years. There are some disruptions and delays, but by enlarge the court is still functioning as normal.
Buying and Selling Real Estate
Although worries over job security and the potential for a dramatic drop in real estate prices are undoubtedly impacting on confidence and the consequent willingness of parties to enter into and/or proceed to complete real estate deals, the terms of the standard REIQ real estate contracts and the overall structure of the conveyancing process are both well capable of adapting to Covid-19 issues. Under the standard REIQ contract, there are already specific clauses that will suspend the operation of a contract should events such as a Covid lockdown occur. Under those same terms, the seller is also given the right to terminate the arrangement if government restrictions are to continue for an extended period. House inspections can still legally occur and the only events which are currently not possible are the group gatherings associated with auctions and open houses. In terms of the conveyancing process, the innovation of e conveyancing which has now been in operation for some time, now permits every task of the conveyancing exercise to be conducted online with the one exception of witnessing of signatures but this task can still be easily completed in face to face meetings provided social distancing is used.
Preparation of Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney and the administration of Deceased Estates
Although much of these tasks have historically been conducted through face to face meetings, all of the required tasks to prepare and sign a will, an enduring power of attorney or attend to the administration of a deceased estate, can be conducted via use of telephone or video conferencing and in extreme cases this too can extend the execution of wills and enduring power of attorneys documents although most law firms preference is to continue to have these documents executed in face to face meeting which are all still perfectly doable provided everybody respects social distancing and hand sanitising.
General Legal Business and Consultations
Again with the ability to conduct business via telephone or video conferencing and also via the use of email and online document sharing platforms such as drop box, the business of providing and receiving general legal services is well capable of continuing to be conducted amidst a Covid lockdown environment.
So, the message generally from Zande Law and indeed the legal industry at large is that we are still open for business and do not foresee that any developments associated with Covid-19 will impact on our ability to provide services for you.