As of the time of writing, we have received limited advice from the Justice Department, Law Institute or Courts in relation to how criminal proceedings may be affected by closures, quarantines and restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. What we know, currently, is that the County Court and Supreme Court will not be commencing any new criminal trials (ie those that require a jury) as of Monday 16 March 2020. The Department of Corrections has advised that there will be no change to prison visits, but has confirmed that this is a developing situation and they may shut down prisons at short notice and, most particularly, if there is a suspected case of COVID-19. The prisons most likely to be affected are the Melbourne Assessment Prison and the Metropolitan Remand Centre, as well as the custody centres at the various courts. The reason for this is that recent remandees are more likely to have come into contact with infected persons.

We write to reassure you all that our criminal defence lawyers in Melbourne will continue to operate throughout the pandemic period and are putting in place alternative work arrangements, in the event that there are restrictions to public transport, industry, Courts and prisons.

Effective immediately, we will not be conducting any face to face client consultations. All consultations will be conducted by teleconference and Skype, unless the matter is very sensitive or there are special considerations that require face to face contact. We are, however, expanding our hours of operation from 8am until 8pm in order to accommodate conferences throughout the day, taking into account the special circumstances of our clients.

In response to the State of Emergency, as of Wednesday 18 March 2020:

  1. All lawyers will work from home, with the office number diverted to a centralised line where calls can be transferred to the individual lawyer requested.
  2. All lawyers will be equipped with home offices capable of accessing all files, working on matters, scanning/printing/emailing and conducting skype and jabber conferences;
  3. We will continue to attend Court. However, we will be asking that the Courts excuse our clients from attending Court in circumstances, where their attendance is not strictly required, unless you instruct us otherwise. This step is recommended to avoid over-crowding in Court, which can contribute to the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of our clients and our staff will be prioritised throughout this crisis period; and
  4. Prison visits in person will be rescheduled and jabbers conducted regularly with clients. If you have a loved one in custody and you are concerned about their health, please contact us as a matter of urgency.

My firm remains committed to continue to provide the level of support, assistance and advice that our clients expect from us, even during this difficult period. With that in mind, we invite all clients subject to undertakings of bail of community corrections orders to contact our office if they feel that they will be unable to comply with their undertakings and commitments due to quarantine, closures or other coronavirus related issues. We are available to make bail variation and community corrections order applications on your behalf in order to avoid you being disadvantage by the spread of COVID-19 and the associated measures.

As soon as more information comes to hand, we will communicate with you immediately. I also invite you to like or follow our Galbally Parker Lawyers Facebook page where we will be posting regular updates so that our clients are aware of recent developments.

As always, if you are concerned or need to speak with a member of our office, please do not hesitate to contact us on 03 9670 8771 or at