Queensland Law Society

Post-cyclone information: settlements, court closures & support

I would like to thank the members who have contacted us at QLS to make us aware of their situations following Cyclone Debbie. I hope that anyone who has been affected is receiving assistance where needed and anyone still facing the after effects is safe and as prepared as possible.

Thank you especially to both QLS Senior Counsellor John Ryan and Andrew Telford who made us aware of the natural and physical damage sustained at Airlie Beach. In times such as these we rely on our colleagues across Queensland to provide us with up to date information, and I greatly appreciate both John and Andrew taking the time to contact the Society.

From our information, I understand that all four firms in Airlie Beach have been affected by the extreme weather in varying degrees. My thoughts are with you and I hope you are all staying safe with your families at this time.

I do understand that there will be continued difficulties in areas such as Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Cannonvale over the coming days and weeks. Power, water and road access may be just some of the trials those in the areas will face. Our reports also indicate that internet is slow or intermittent and some firms are working off generators at the moment so have limited access to computers, printers and the like.

I ask again of our members not in these areas to continue to be patient and mindful that many firms in affected regions may be working remotely or uncontactable. I have also been made aware that the Proserpine Court House was damaged, meaning that all communications are currently being made via mail. I am informed that a general call over is likely to be held next Monday but we will confirm this after we have spoken directly with the courts. Please also be patient as our reports indicate there is also one person at the courthouse coordinating communications at this point in time.

The QLS team and I will continue to update you, our members, via messages such as this and social media updates as information comes to light.

Please remember that the Queensland Government and emergency services are the best resource for up to date information during the danger and recovery process.

Forgive me for repeating information, but just in case some members have not had access to email and are not up to date with our messaging yet, I will again provide the below resources and information:

Conveyancing settlements

If you are unable to perform settlement obligations solely as a consequence of a natural disaster you should refer generally to clause 6.2 of the REIQ/QLS standard contract for houses and residential land 13th edition.  Please note that clause 6.2 does not suspend time with respect to other clauses in the contract e.g. finance and building and pest approval. You should read the contract carefully to determine your client’s entitlements there under. If you have any concerns please contact the QLS Ethics Centre on 07 3842 5843, or email ethics@qls.com.au.

If your client’s contract is not a standard REIQ/QLS land contract, please refer to the terms of that contract to ascertain if there is a suspension of time clause for settlement obligations.

Please note that Logan City has now been recognised as a natural disaster zone.

Other areas that are eligible for assistance following Cyclone Debbie include:

  • Mackay Regional Council
  • Whitsunday Regional Council
  • Isaac Regional Council

Areas that are eligible for assistance following the severe weather event after Cyclone Debbie include:

  • Areas of the Scenic Rim
  • Areas of Logan
  • Areas of the Gold Coast.

Find the full list here.

Court closures

Proserpine will be closed for the rest of this week, planning to open on Monday 10 April 2017. Please be mindful that they currently have no electricity.

Bowen will be closed today (TUESDAY) and tomorrow on ly the registry will be open. Sitting will resume from next week as per usual.

Current information indicates that Rockhampton will not be impacted by the expected flood peak later this week and is currently not planning a closure.

Blackwater Court matters will be conducted via videolink.

We have spoken to representatives from DJAG and have been advised that at this time it is business as usual at all other courts unless notified otherwise. Please keep in contact with your local courthouse and the Courts Queensland website for updates.

If a practitioner is unable to attend court today, please contact the clerk to advise of your situation and request the appropriate adjournment. Alternatively, please contact the Associate to the relevant Judge.

Ethical or practice support guidance

For guidance on ethical or practice support matters please contact the QLS Ethics Centre 07 3842 5843 or ethics@qls.com.au. For afterhours queries please speak to Director, QLS Ethics Centre – Stafford Shepherd 0438 138 895.

Assistance for those affected

I again extend my heartfelt sympathies to those who have been affected by the cyclone or the after effects either in your business or at home. I truly hope that many of you were not hit severely and that anyone adversely impacted is receiving assistance.

If your practice did suffer in some way, I would like to provide you with some options you can investigate that may assist in your recovery:

  • Law Foundation Queensland if you require information about interest free loans to assist with recovery through their Benevolent Fund.
  • Queensland Law Society’s website for guidance on what to do if your firm has been affected by flooding or extreme weather conditions.
  • Lexon Insurance’s website if they are your insurer.
  • LawCare if you require any assistance with counselling, advice on how to help others or assistance with developing plans to manage issues and challenges. Please remember that QLS members, their staff and families do have access to up to six hours of free counselling each year through LawCare.
  • Disaster Assist Queensland for possible options for assistance in relief and recovery.

If you have been affected personally in your home, you can visit Queensland Government’s Get Ready Website for further information. You can also contact your local Federal Member’s office or visit their websites or social media channels for further information on what assistance is offered in your area.

The Queensland Government are also running a Community Recovery Hotline – 1800 173 349 that is live for information or for assistance.

Applications for financial assistance can be made online through www.communityrecovery.qld.gov.au. Stay up to date via their website.

The Insurance Council of Australia have declared a catastrophe for damage caused by Debbie and have stated that insurers were ready to assist policyholders. They advise those affected to lodge a claim as soon as they can. You can visit them on Twitter or their website for further information and updates.

Assisting clients

Also remember that you may (if you haven’t already) start receiving calls from clients or potential clients in affected areas asking for information about ongoing matters or assistance with insurance issues. Please remember that this is a stressful situation for everyone involved and I appreciate any assistance you can offer the community at this time.

If you have not been adversely affected and you wish to assist others in some way, you can visit the Emergency Volunteering website for details.

Stay safe,

President Christine SmythChristine Smyth

President

Queensland Law Society