Coronavirus pandemic: Certain legal practitioners are ‘key workers’

Coronavirus pandemic: Certain legal practitioners are ‘key workers’

The UK government has confirmed that keeping the justice system running during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is vital and that certain practitioners are being recognised as key workers during the crisis.

The Ministry of Justice has issued further guidance on which legal practitioners come within the limited category of key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Law Society of England and Wales, which has analysed the guidance, the legal practitioners covered are those who are essential to the running of the justice system, particularly  the courts and tribunals.

These legal practitioners are:

  • Advocates (including solicitor advocates) required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person), including prosecutors
  • Other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice, including duty solicitors (police station and court) and barristers, solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings
  • Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills
  • Solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty

Only legal practitioners who work on these types of matters, cases and hearings will be permitted to be classified as a key worker, according to the Law Society’s analysis of the guidance.

Some legal practitioners will intermittently fall into the key worker category because they need to provide advice or attend a hearing for an urgent matter relating, for example, to safeguarding children or vulnerable adults, or a public safety matter.

For the limited time required to deliver this work, a legal practitioner will be a key worker.

Legal practitioners categorised as key workers can ask schools to continue to take their children, but the Law Society advised that such a request “should be an exceptional step where this is essential in order to keep the wheels of justice turning” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The government’s guidance makes clear that even if you are a key worker, if your child can be looked after at home, they should be,” the Law Society explained.

“In the current climate schools are not open just for education, but as places of safety for the few children who cannot safely be looked after at home, because those who are caring for them are key workers doing essential work.”

“Solicitors will need to decide responsibly for themselves whether they fall within the categories outlined, within the spirit of being essential to the running of the justice system, in accordance with the overriding objective of keeping children at home wherever possible.”

The Law Society has produced a comprehensive hub of advice and updates legal practitioners during the coronavirus pandemic, which can be accessed here

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Mark Dugdale

Mark is the Editor of Yorkshire Legal. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk