NSW Floods update

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Our thoughts are with the 500,000 people subject to evacuation orders in NSW right now, including members of the legal profession.

The Law Society is deeply aware of the impact this is having on communities and livelihoods. We will continue to reach out to regional law societies in affected areas to see what assistance they might need and to check that they, their staff and their families are coping. It is important that regional practitioners do not feel isolated at this time. You can call or text 0447 333 698 to reach a member of the Law Society’s team, who will do their best to assist you. 

Below you will also find information and contacts for court sittings in affected areas, impacted business assistance available through Lawcover, and how to seek further help through Service NSW. Please also remember the Law Society’s Solicitor Outreach Service (SOS) is also available to all NSW solicitors. It is free and confidential. Contact SOS on 1800 592 296.

If you have concerns about damaged or destroyed files, please do reach out to the Law Society’s professional standards and trust accounts department at psd@lawsociety.com.au or tad@lawsociety.com.au as soon as you are able to do so. 

From all of us at the Law Society NSW, take care and stay safe.

- Joanne van der Plaat, President, The Law Society of New South Wales

Courts closed until 11/3

The following courts are closed  1 - 11 March 2022:

  • Lismore Local Court 
  • Maclean Local Court 
  • Ballina Local Court
  • Byron Bay Local Court
  • Casino Local Court
  • Mullumbimby Local Court
  • Murwillumbah Local Court
  • Windsor Local Court - (Closed 4 March 2022)

All matters will be adjourned and parties notified. Please contact the NSW Court Service Centre (1300 679 272) or email the court here.

Lismore District Court update

Due to recent flooding there will be no sittings at the Lismore District Court the week commencing 7 March 2022.

Reach out for help

It is important practitioners do not feel isolated at this time. The Law Society’s Solicitor Outreach Service (SOS) is also available to all NSW solicitors. It is free and confidential. Contact SOS on 1800 592 296.

Assistance available from Lawcover

Lawcover is able to offer impacted businesses assistance under their Financial Hardship Policy if there are difficulties meeting upcoming Professional Indemnity Premium payments and/or a refund on any registration fees to any of Lawcover’s recent or upcoming risk management events/seminars held in those affected areas. Call 1800 650 748.

Help available through Service NSW for flood recovery and business support

Service NSW will continue to help flood-affected communities secure recovery assistance. Please stay safe and prepared during the storms and regularly check warnings and alerts. For information on all available disaster assistance, please call Service NSW on 13 77 88 or visit here. Service NSW can help connect flood-affected customers with services and support information including: access to emergency accommodation, relevant charitable services, mental health and wellbeing services, financial assistance, insurance and legal advice, and replacing lost identification.

Loan repayments deferred

The Australian Banking Association has released a statement indicating that Australia’s banks have announced options to defer loan repayments for up to three months for those customers affected by the flood disasters in NSW and Queensland. Depending on your circumstances, assistance may include: a deferral of scheduled loan repayments, on home, personal and some business loans for up to 3 months, waiving of fees and charges, including for early access to term deposits, debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable, restructuring existing loans free of the usual establishment fees, offering additional finance to help cover cash flow shortages, deferring upcoming credit card payments and emergency credit limit increases. Read the statement here.

Immediate steps to take if files have been damaged or destroyed

If the floods have damaged or destroyed any client files, give notice as soon as you are able of the particulars of what has been damaged or lost to:

  • Any client whose documents may have been damaged (pursuant to rule 7 of the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules)
  • The Law Society’s Professional Standards Department, via psd@lawsociety.com.au, and
  • The Law Society’s Trust Accounts Department at tad@lawsociety.com.au

Both the Professional Standards Department and Trust Accounts Departments will keep a record of your notification in case any issues arise in the future.

You may also wish to contact Lawcover (lawcover@lawcover.com.au) if the loss of files is likely to give rise to a claim against your law practice.

You may also want to explore options whereby files can be ‘re-assembled’ from existing electronic records.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Professional Support Solicitors at ethics@lawsociety.com.au or regulatory.compliance@lawsociety.com.au

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Law Society has a range of materials to support practitioners’ wellbeing during this difficult time.

Please have a look at our Mental Health and Wellbeing page to access resources and mental health support services.