COVID-19: The wheels of justice continue to grind, just a little slower.
Courts have announced a number of restrictions on civil and criminal matters in the past few weeks as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 and the need to implement social distancing.
Whilst the position of the Courts is fluid and have changed as the crisis has worsened, the latest news out of the ACT Magistrates Court is that all defended matters and most summons matters will be deferred until after 1 July 2020. Whilst this will no doubt have an impact on the already substantial delays in Court matters in the Territory, it is clearly a necessary measure in the current climate.
Not all matters are being adjourned, however. Criminal matters where the accused person is on bail and matters where an accused person comes before the Court in custody, having been refused bail by the police, will continue to be heard, albeit in a slightly different method than before. Those matters will largely be heard via audio-visual or telephone link-up.
Unlike some other jurisdictions, ACT Policing have unapologetically stated they will continue to conduct random breath testing and the fact remains that police will continue to arrest people and charge them for criminal offences.
The solicitors at Aulich are well-prepared for these somewhat unconventional times and for the last two weeks have been working remotely, including conducting all Court appearances via telephone and client conferences via Zoom. Whilst I was initially reluctant to embrace remote appearances in the early stages, it has served our firm and our clients very well and it has meant we are ahead of the game as the restrictions have been tightened over time.
The closure and restrictions on many businesses has already had a huge impact on many Canberrans, particularly those in the hospitality industry. To do our part, the Partners of Aulich have decided to reduce our fees in many matters to assist people.
For criminal matters, those reduced fees include:
- Drink-driving pleas $1500;
- Pleas of guilty in ACT Magistrates Court for other offences (including family violence matters) $2000;
- Hearings in ACT Magistrates Court $5000; and
- Fixed pricing on some ACT Supreme Court trials.
For civil matters, those reduced fees include:
- Single enduring power of attorney $250 (usually $390)
- Single basic will $600 (usually $799)
- Single testamentary trust will $900 (usually $1,300
- Couple enduring power of attorney $500 (usually $650)
- Couple basic will $1,000 (usually $1,300)
- Couple testamentary trust will $1,700 (usually $2,500)
All rates quoted above are exclusive of GST.
Ordinarily we do not think fixed fees are appropriate because it encourages some of our competitors to take short cuts – but we want to offer people a chance to get back on their feet and give them certainty with legal their fees in a climate where not much is certain for the next little while.
Please contact us at email@example.com for more information in relation to these services. For urgent criminal matters, please contact Peter Woodhouse on 0439 427 629.