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Society alarmed by Covid-19 exemption for lawyers

By Monidipa Fouzder  >>

The Law Society has raised concerns about latest coronavirus regulations which allow lawyers to break self-isolation rules.

Health protection regulations introduced at the start of this week for England state that people who test positive for Covid-19 or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus after 28 September must self-isolate.

However, a person can come out of self-isolation ‘to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or participating in legal proceedings’.

The Ministry of Justice told the Gazette that lawyers who test positive for Covid-19 or are told to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, would not be breaking the law if they went to court.

The Law Society said it was concerned about the exemption and has raised the matter with courts minister Chris Philp.

Simon Davis, president, said: ‘Allowing lawyers to break quarantine will increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission and pose a significant danger to court users – especially those who have underlying health conditions or are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

‘If explicitly required by the court to attend, lawyers should notify the court of any quarantine requirements so that consideration can be given for hearings to be rescheduled or dealt with remotely.’

HM Courts & Tribunals Service guidance states that people should not go to court if they are self-isolating, have symptoms of coronavirus or are extremely vulnerable, and should inform the court or tribunal.

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)