Probate Office notice
The Probate Office remains open for the lodgment of all applications, and will resume issuing Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration from 16 April.
For further information, and contact details for other queries, visit the Courts Service website.
Family law matters
The Law Society has sought as much clarity as possible from the Government on the issue of access during the period of movement restrictions.
The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, signed on 7 April, by Minister for Health Simon Harris, explicitly recognises giving effect to access arrangements as a valid reason for travel, at regulation 4(2)(n).
Justice minister Charlie Flanagan has stressed that mediation services are still available, and should be used if parties cannot agree on arrangements.
The Family Mediation Service of the Legal Aid Board is offering free telephone mediation and conflict coaching.
More details about this service can be found at www.legalaidboard.ie, while other free parent support services are available from One Family and Treoir.
While court offices are still open, they are only open for essential business, and by appointment only.
Breach of access
The judiciary and the Courts Service have advised that applications for breach of access, or maintenance, are not generally considered to be urgent.
However, according to the practice direction of the President of the District Court Judge Colin Daly a case that does not come into the ‘defined urgent’ category can be treated as urgent if a good case can be made, and this will be decided, by the court, on a case-by-case basis.
Justice sector information
Aside from the Courts Service, it is important for many colleagues to know how individual agencies charged with the administration of justice are addressing COVID-19 in their practices and procedures.
Bodies including the Coroners Society, Irish Prison Service and more, have helpfully provided information on the Department of Justice and Equality website.
President Michele O’Boyle has told practitioners that she will continue to provide updates and guidance by email bulletin.
“Like many citizens of this country, a significant part of the economy is in hibernation,” she said.
“This is a small sacrifice, in the context of the sacrifice that front-line staff are willing to make, to save lives and to prevent illness,” she said.
“The speed with which Ireland can return to some level of fiscal normality will depend somewhat on the success in containing the spread of COVID-19. When the public health emergency is behind us, a return to fiscal normality is the ultimate economic objective.”
The Law Society President said that by continuing to provide essential legal services within the strict HSE and WHO guidelines, the profession would play its part in the economic recovery.
Extraordinary efforts are being made right across the profession to offer clear advice to clients, to protect their legal rights, and to keep the wheels of justice moving, she noted.
This is reflected in many areas of the justice system, where successful lobbying by the Law Society has contributed to officials finding new ways to continue providing important services.
This, in turn, is facilitating the legal profession in providing essential legal services to those who require them.