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Top End Womens Legal Service

Announcing Legal Education Month - July

 A month of a free legal education workshops held at TEWLS on the most commonly requested areas of law, including family law, domestic and family violence, and tenancy.

Commencing from Tuesday 7 July 2020, the TEWLS Legal Education Month will feature a series of four (4) topics, with each topic running twice per week in one (1) hour workshops. All workshops will be held free-of-charge and in-person at TEWLS’ Darwin office, with refreshments provided during the workshops and TEWLS solicitors available following the workshops to provide any further information and/or assistance to make an appointment for legal advice. The workshops will be available to members of the general public.

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Supreme Court of the Northern Territory

Notice #6 to Practitioners, Litigants and the Visiting Public - COVID-19, and Practice Direction No 1 of 2020 (amended)

As notified in paragraph 4 of Notice #6 – COVID 19, the temporary electronic filing arrangements provided for by Practice Direction 1 of 2020: Electronic Filing in Civil Proceeding COVID-19 Temporary Arrangements, made 31 March 2020 are to continue until the commencement of electronic filing under the Odyssey Integrated Case Management System.

Some amendments have been made to the existing Practice Direction. This amended Practice Direction commences on 5 June 2020.

Additionally, Registries in Darwin and Alice Springs will re-open, with appropriate social distancing measures in place, as of 15 June 2020.

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Don Dale Detention Centre Use of Tear Gas – High Court of Australia Ruling

The Law Society Northern Territory (the Society) welcomes yesterday’s High Court decision that the use of tear gas at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2014 was unlawful.

This decision emphasises and highlights the need for change within the youth justice system in the Northern Territory and in particular reinforces the need for the Northern Territory Government to implement the recommendations made in the 2017 Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory Report.

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Solicitor-General Appointed as Supreme Court Justice

The Northern Territory Government media release can be viewed here.

Solicitor-General Sonia Brownhill has been appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. Ms Brownhill will replace the Honourable Justice Graham Hiley who is retiring early next year, and her appointment will take effect from 2 November 2020.

Her appointment means that following the retirement of the Justice Hiley the Northern Territory Supreme Court will become the first in Australia to have a 50:50 split in gender representation on the bench.

Ms Brownhill has a lengthy background in law in the Northern Territory. She joined the Solicitor for the Northern Territory in 1997, before moving to the Solicitor-General’s Chambers in 2006 as Crown Counsel.

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NT Local Court update

Following feedback, and further technology enhancements, please see attached updated:

Please note the requirement of Virtual Appearance Slips to be provided to the Court at least 2 business days in advance. To assist compliance with this one slip can be used for multiple matters across multiple days. This will enable the court to send you a Cisco WebEx meeting invitation for your matter at the time it is listed.

These documents outline practices to commence Monday 11 May 2020.

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Advice 3: COVID-19 - practising certificate renewals and fees

The Law Society Northern Territory is aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having on legal practitioners and firms across the Northern Territory.

The Society has been looking at measures that may assist the local legal profession where possible and notes steps taken in other Australian jurisdictions to support and provide financial and other assistance.

Northern Territory annual practising certificate fees and the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund annual contribution are not set by the Society but are determined each year by a statutory process under the Legal Profession Act 2006. Membership of the Society is included as part of the practising certificate fee.

This means that the Society has no ability to reduce practising certificate fees or Society membership fees as has been occurring in other jurisdictions.

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Local Court hearings to be vacated to help tackle spread of COVID-19

The NT Local Court is taking measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and will delay many hearings scheduled to take place until June 2020.
Non-custodial hearings will be vacated and listed for Case Management Inquiry (CMI).

CMI's are usually brief procedural listings that enable the matter to be heard by the court at a later date.

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Supreme Court NT front counter services in Alice Springs

Notice #5 to practitioners litigants and the visiting public

  1. Following the developments in the COVID-19 situation, and the need to implement measures to ensure the safety of staff, practitioners, litigants and the visiting public, the public facing counter in Alice Springs closed with effect from Wednesday, 1 April 2020.
  2. While the counter is closed, the Registry will still be operating to provide services and support to practitioners, litigants and the wider community by telephone and email.
  3. Practice Direction 1 of 2020 and 2 of 2020 which are available on the Supreme Court website provide directions in relation to the management of criminal and civil proceedings during closure of the public counters, including the filing, issuing and transmission of court documents.
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Darwin Local Court

Bail and arrest call-over

There will be a call-over of the Darwin Local Court Bail and Arrest list at 9:30am conducted by the A/Darwin Criminal Registrar David Kirby. This will commence as of 2.04.2020.

The purpose will be:

  • To ensure that all electronic filings and Virtual Appearance Slips have been received;
  • To determine which matters are fresh files; and
  • To prioritise those people who are being held in custody in remote Police Stations.

The Judge will come down to commence the list at 10am.

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Supreme Court NT changes to front counter services

Notice #4 to practitioners litigants and the visiting public

Front counter services

1. Following the developments in the COVID-19 situation, and the need to implement measures to ensure the safety of staff, practitioners, litigants and the visiting public, from Wednesday, 1 April 2020 the public facing counters in Supreme Court Civil Registry and Sheriff’s Office will be closed.

2. While the counters are closed, the registries will still be operating to provide services and support to practitioners, litigants and the wider community by telephone and email.

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Advice 2: Current Law Society NT Arrangements in response to COVID-19

The Law Society NT continues to closely monitor the developing COVID-19 situation with a view to ensure it takes all action required to protect the health and wellbeing of the profession, Society staff and anyone entering its premises. Set out below are the arrangements to be put in place by the Society as from Monday 30 March 2020.

Law Society NT Office

Please note that whilst the Society remains operational, as from Monday 30 March 2020, many of its staff will be working from home.

As a result, from Monday 30 March 2020, the Society’s office will be closed to visitors until further notice.

Throughout this period, the Society can still be contacted by telephone and email and will continue to undertake and offer all its operational functions. The closure of this office will mean that there will be no face-to-face events, CPDs or visitor contact. Physical deliveries may be received by prior arrangement if necessary.

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External examination (EE) reports

The Society acknowledges the impact that COVID-19 will have on law practices over the coming months. Many law practice offices may be closed as staff are encouraged to work from home in line with social-distancing requirements. It is understood that this is likely to present difficulties for practices in allowing their appointed external examiner the physical access required to highly confidential trust accounting records and related files often kept in law practice offices. These files often cannot be removed from offices and are necessary for external examiners to carry out the annual review required under the Legal Profession Act 2006.

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Office details

Office: 3/6 Lindsay St. Darwin NT 0800
Post: GPO Box 2388 Darwin NT 0801
ABN: 62 208 314 893


Please note that the Society does not offer legal advice.

A list of lawyers can be found here.

Telephone: (08) 8981 5104