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COVID-19: MoJ lists which lawyers are ‘key workers’

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Their children can attend school or nursery from today

The Ministry of Justice has announced which legal practitioners will be classified as ‘key workers’, enabling their children to attend school from today whilst they deliver essential service during the COVID-19 crisis.

The government published its list of key workers on Thursday which included, among others, those “essential to the running of the justice system”.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) yesterday clarified the legal practitioners covered within this category, with a particular focus on the continued operation of the courts and tribunals. The category comprises:

– 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; and

– Solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty.

Only legal practitioners who work on the types of matters, cases and hearings listed above, will be permitted to be classified as a key worker, the MoJ stated.

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In addition, it said some legal practitioners will intermittently fall into this category because they need to provide advice or attend a hearing for an urgent matter relating, for example, to safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, or a public safety matter. For the limited time required to deliver this work, a legal practitioner will be deemed a key worker.

The government guidance makes clear that if the children of key workers can be safely looked after at home then they should be.

The Law Society, the professional body governing solicitors in England and Wales, said:

“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.”

In a statement Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, said: “Barristers should decide for themselves whether they fall within the category of key worker and, if so, whether they can nevertheless keep their children at home or need to send them to school.”

From today schools across the UK have closed until further notice to curb the spread of the novel virus. The children of key workers, however, will still be able to attend.

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