29 April 2020
2020 has certainly presented significant challenges for us as a profession. QLS is continuing its work to assist the profession and the community in responding to the challenges COVID-19 has presented to the efficient and effective provision of legal services and justice.
I have been heartened to receive the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the profession regarding QLS’s $9 million support package for the profession, our additional member advice services, our advocacy work and our efforts to provide practitioners access to the latest, most up to date information from the profession and beyond during the COVID-19 situation.
Council’s main objective in responding to COVID-19 was to assist the profession through this unprecedented time and ensure legal firms ‘doors remain open’, protecting livelihoods and jobs. The financial support package plus our additional services of the Employment Law Advice Service, General Manager Support Service and Government Financial Assistance Service offered through our Ethics and Practice Centre, will go some way to achieving this objective.
To reiterate, the immediate financial support package for the profession includes:
- 26% subsidy in the annual cost of practising certificates
- 20% subsidy on the base professional indemnity insurance levy rates for practitioners insured through Lexon Insurance Pte Ltd as a result of funding QLS has released from its Law Claims Levy Fund
- 50% subsidy on the full membership fee for the Society’s more than 11,000 members.
You’ll access these subsidies as part of QLS’s FY2020-21 renewals process, which commences on Tuesday next week, 5 May 2020. More information about our renewals process is in this edition of QLS Update and members and practitioners should receive further information by email next week.
Additionally, we are continuing to work with the Attorney-General and her Department advocating for changes to assist the ongoing practice of law during COVID-19 and also provide practitioners with the latest and most up to date information about the changes being implemented through our COVID-19 resource page. I encourage you all to visit this dedicated resource.
Last week, we saw the introduction, passing and assent of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020. The Act establishes an emergency legal response framework to alter aspects of the existing Queensland law to hopefully overcome some of the challenges posed by COVID-19. On Friday last week (24 April 2020), we published an explainer video on the new legislation.
The first set of regulations made under the new legislation were made on Friday 24 April 2020 in the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020.
These temporary changes to the law of residential tenancies to support tenants who are impacted by COVID-19 and provide additional rights for property owners, including preventing certain evictions, extending some fixed term leases, capping break lease fees for eligible tenants, dealing with physical entry to the property in some circumstances and providing new approved reasons to allow property owners and tenants to end their tenancy agreement if they need to during the COVID-19 emergency period and relaxing certain obligations for routine repairs and inspections.
More information on these initiatives is available in the Residential Tenancies Practice Guide.
Practitioners should note that certain provisions in the regulation are taken to commence from 29 March 2020, see section 2.
QLS is continuing to engage with the Government on measures to respond to the challenges of document execution and witnessing whilst complying with social distancing requirements. The new emergency legislation permits a regulation to be made to effect such changes and we are hopeful a regulation will be operative very shortly.
Additionally we have had a new Practice Direction issued by the Chief Justice addressing the preparing of informal wills in response to COVID-19 challenges. The Practice Direction applies to documents executed between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020. A copy of the Practice Direction is available here.
We will continue to maintain our engagement with Government to overcome the practical problems being experienced by members at this time and I am hopeful further assistance measures for the profession will be made shortly. Please keep highlighting to us any issues that you experience in your practice so we can take steps to try to address them for the benefit of the whole profession.
There is, however, more to be done as we hopefully will shortly start to return to a new ‘normality’. The Society has started its planning for how it may be able to assist you through this and I look forward to making to making further announcements once the format of these additional services are determined.
Finally, I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you about the changes to Proctor. From May, every member will be receiving a digital copy of Proctor—there will be no printed edition. This is part of our longer term plans to boost Proctor’s online presence. Keep an eye out for further news about our new Proctor online platform in future editions of QLS Update.
Please continue to stay safe and well.
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