20 March 2020
Coronavirus: A Statement by Head of Chambers, Chris Williams (20/03/2020).
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in the UK, as Head of Chambers my key priority has been to protect the health and welfare of our staff, barristers and clients. As a busy Chambers, with a large footfall of people through both our Leeds and Newcastle premises, we have introduced safety measures based on Government and Public Health England guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus. Whilst both of our chambers remain open (for the time being), most of our barristers, clerks and staff have moved to a remote working model. Barristers are advising clients by telephone, email and video conferencing. Where there are planned court hearings, conferences or settlement meetings, these are being managed on individual basis by our dedicated clerking team. We will continue to attend court until we are officially advised otherwise. However, the Government has stated that those “essential to the running of the justice system” are regarded as key workers. The judiciary has made provision for most civil and family cases to be heard remotely, with lawyers being required to take part in virtual hearings. Last year we substantially invested in an improved IT system which supports smooth and secure remote working by everyone in chambers. Staff and barristers are already familiar with remote working, therefore should it become mandatory for us to close our premises, we will be able to continue to deliver the fantastic service that our clients expect. Our aim is to work with clients and the court service to minimise disruption and ensure continuity of service and legal representation. We are encouraging, wherever possible, for all papers to be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org If this is not possible, please get in touch with one of our superb clerks for further guidance. I would like to thank our fantastic team in chambers and wish everyone the best during the forthcoming weeks. Further information on Chambers’ Coronavirus (COVID-19) policy and the procedures to follow, can be found here.