We are in an incredibly fortunate situation in Tasmania, without having had to deal with the consequences of a coronavirus outbreak or the restrictions associated with such an outbreak since approximately June of 2020.

Although a third of our population is fully vaccinated, there is always the chance we may face a lockdown. This is something the Law Society has discussed with the Tasmanian Government, and other Law Societies around Australia.  It is something the Tasmanian Government has been planning for and announced last week.

As you all know a lockdown sees significant restrictions quickly placed on a community for a short period of time in response to one or more COVID-19 cases being detected in the community.

The Tasmanian Government has developed a plan that provides specific guidance to businesses including those that will be “open” and providing an “essential service”. That guide can be viewed here.

Legal services, including conveyancing, that cannot be provided electronically are classed as “essential work and services”. Any legal service that can be provided electronically will not be an “essential work and service”.

During any lockdown:

  • You will be required to remain at home except for six (6) permitted reasons.
  • All efforts must be made for employees to work from home during the lockdown.
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings are not allowed.
  • Density rules will be applied to offices unless it is not reasonably practicable or would pose adverse unintended consequences. The density requirement is one person per 4 square metres.
  • Face masks to be worn outside the home by people aged 12 and older.

If a lockdown occurs in any part of Tasmania, rest assured the Society will work to address any issue or concern the profession may have associated with COVID-19.


The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA)

The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court which will, from 1 September 2021, become a single Federal Court known as the “Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia” (or FCFCOA) recently announced the appointment of Judicial Registrars and Senior Judicial Registrars.

The Law Society of Tasmania congratulates Mr Patrick Fitzgerald on his appointment to the Court as a Senior Judicial Registrar and Ms Edwina Gelston on her appointment to the Court as a Judicial Registrar.

Mr Fitzgerald commences his appointment on 30 August 2021 and Ms Gelston on 13 September 2021.

In a press release issued by the Court yesterday Chief Justice Alstergren said:

“The new registrars are all family law specialists with significant skill and experience. The appointments include senior and highly respected members of the profession including barristers, special counsel, senior solicitors, and a Magistrate, and many who are also accredited mediators. They have all stepped forward to enthusiastically join the new Court in its endeavour to develop a modern, world-leading family law court system that focuses on risk, responsiveness and resolution.”

“The depth of skill and experience of this cohort of family law practitioners demonstrates support for our family law court system, and a sense of energy and momentum amongst the profession who wish to contribute and make a significant difference in how we deal with family law disputes in Australia.”

“I sincerely welcome them all to the Courts …”

Strategic Planning Days

The Law Society of Tasmania recently conducted two strategic planning days. The first was a continuation of our 31 July Council meeting and focused solely on the Society’s strategic plan for the next three to five years. The second, conducted over the course of Saturday, 21 August focused on the work of the wellbeing committee.

Simon Gates, Vice President of the Law Society and Chair of the Wellbeing committee chaired the planning day that was facilitated by Melissa Lyon and Steph Karas from Hive Legal.

The committee members spent the day exploring the Committee’s goals, both short-term and long-term, with an emphasis on initiatives designed to improve the wellbeing of all members of the legal community.  Members can expect to see some of those initiatives being implemented by the Society in coming months.

Both Strategic Plans will be published by the Society once adopted by Council of the Law Society.

Ongoing Projects

The Law Society and its committees are currently working on the following projects in addition to those previously reported by me in the Weekly Update:

  • Proposed model definition of family violence
  • Review under Section 2 of the Sentencing Amendment (Phasing Out Of Suspended Sentences) Act 2017. This Act created a Home Detention Order and a Community Corrections Order, as well as providing for the Supreme Court to make Drug Treatment Orders.  The Act also contained provisions which would limit the court’s ability to make a suspended sentence order for specified offences, and which would also impose further legislative requirements concerning the activation of a sentence of imprisonment following a breach of the order.  However, these provisions are not able to commence until a review has been conducted by the Sentencing Advisory Council and laid before both Houses of Parliament. The Criminal Law Committee will develop submission to be provided to the Sentencing Advisory Council.

Trevor McKenna
26 August 2021