Queensland Law Society

QLS urges patience for storm-ridden NQ

NQ Courthouse closures:

  • Townsville Supreme and District Courts will re-open on Monday 11 February 2019
  • All North and Central Queensland Courts have resumed normal operations
  • Townsville Titles Registry will reopen on Thursday 7 February 2019 from 8:30 am
  • Palm Island Magistrates Court is closed from Tuesday 5 to Wednesday 6 February 2019
  • Ingham Magistrates Court is closed from Thursday 7 to Friday 8 February 2019
  • Townsville Arrests Court remains open for custody matters
  • Numerous firms may be closed or disrupted today until further notice
  • Proserpine Magistrates Court is closed Tuesday 5 February 2019 until further notice

For more information, follow @JusticeQLD on Facebook and Twitter or visit the Department of Justice and Attorney-General’s website here. For matters listed during the closure, you can attempt to call the Registry in the region – note they will have skeleton staff and only be open while matters are being heard. More information is included in the relevant practice directions on the Queensland Courts website.

Townsville is facing more severe weather and flooding, causing the courts, schools, Government offices and many law firms to be closed today.

QLS President Bill Potts has been in contact with members in North Queensland to stay abreast of the situation, and urges all solicitors, their staff and families to seek shelter during this time.

“Townsville has been declared a disaster zone, and reports over the weekend from members are that numerous firms will be closed while the weather persists,” he said.

“I ask all our North Queensland colleagues to stay safe, and take steps to ensure the safety of their staff also – whether it be by closing your firm or working remotely to stay off the roads.

“Just a reminder again that there is guidance available from the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre, Lexon Insurance and the Queensland Government on how best to face a natural disaster.

“We will provide relevant links at the end of this update.”

Mr Potts said members unable to perform property settlement obligations solely as a consequence of the natural disaster should refer generally to cause 6.2 of the REIQ/QLS standard contract for houses and residential land 15th edition and equivalent clauses in other contracts.”

Members should 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. Members are encouraged to read the contract carefully to determine your client’s entitlements there under. If the 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.

“If you have any concerns please contact the QLS Ethics Centre on 07 3842 5843, or email ethics@qls.com.au.

“Once again, stay safe and look after yourselves and one another.

“We will keep updating you as the situation progresses.

“Thank you to our North Queensland members – including Immediate Past President Ken Taylor – for their assistance in communicating with us.

“Thank you also to the QLS members who have reached out to QLS Ethics and Practice Support Centre to offer their assistance.

“It is pleasing to see such collegiality amongst our profession, and I applaud members for their continued support of one another during times of hardship.”

Assistance for those affected

I again extend my heartfelt sympathies to those who have been affected by the severe weather or the after effects either in your business or at home.

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.

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.

In addition, personal hardship assistance payments and essential services reconnection grants are now available across the entire Townsville local government area. Personal hardship assistance payments and essential services reconnection grants are now available across the entire Palm Island Aboriginal Shire and in certain areas within Charters Towers Regional Council.

Impacted small businesses in the Townsville local government area can now access concessional loans of up to $250,000, and essential working capital loans of up to $100,000.

Targeted parts of the Douglas Shire Council area have been activated, including:

  • Daintree
  • Upper Daintree 
  • Lower Daintree
  • Degarra
  • Stewart Creek Valley.

Targeted parts of the Cook Shire Council area have been activated, including:

  • Bloomfield (including Ayton)
  • Rossville (including Shiptons Flat).

Visit www.communityrecovery.qld.gov.au or download the Self Recovery app for information or to apply for grants, including Emergency Hardship Grants.

You can also ring the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 to apply for grants and for advice on how to access to support services over the phone.

A range of assistance through the jointly funded Commonwealth-Queensland Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) is now available in 12 local council areas in northern Queensland, the councils are: Burdekin, Cairns, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Cook, Douglas, Hope Vale, Palm Island, Richmond, Townsville, Whitsunday and Wujal Wujal. Through the DRFA, assistance is also now available to Croydon, Etheridge, Hinchinbrook and McKinlay council to help alleviate operational costs and assist with the cost of clean-up and repairs.

Information on disaster assistance can be found on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and the Queensland Government’s Disaster Management website at www.disaster.qld.gov.au.