News

Update re Coronavirus (Covid 19)

DLS is continuing to support the HSC in Northern Ireland during the current Coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic.

Our priority is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our staff whilst we continue to deliver essential legal services to our clients as efficiently as possible.  We will also continue to do all we can to ensure that HSC staff can remain focused on their crucial frontline roles at this critical time.  The Law Society published our statement below to its members. The Lord Chief Justice has issued Guidance for the Courts and Tribunals which states that, during this crisis, court business will be restricted to urgent and emergency cases.

We have therefore implemented our Business Continuity Plans and our office is now closed.  Our solicitors and senior admin team are now working in a limited capacity from home with a clear focus on supporting our HSC clients in their response to the current crisis along with other urgent and emergency matters.  At this time, we are experiencing some difficulties and delays with access to our normal IT systems due to the extraordinary demand for remote access across the HSC.  In playing our part in support of the HSC response to the crisis, some of our staff have already been transferred to other critical duties within BSO and this process is likely to continue.   We would therefore be grateful for your patience at this time recognising that our legal service cannot continue as normal in this extraordinary situation.

If you know which solicitor is dealing with the relevant case or matter, please continue to contact that solicitor by email/mobile phone.   Emails should be copied to the relevant team email address below which will be monitored regularly.  At this time, our Legal Assistants do not have access to their emails.

If you are contacting us in relation to a new case or matter, please contact us via the appropriate team email address below.  For new family law/Children Order cases, please continue to contact the solicitor for the relevant Court.

Employment Law - Employment.law@hscni.net

Clinical Negligence, Coroners - Clinneg&coroners@hscni.net

Commercial Law - Commercial.law@hscni.net

Mental Capacity, Judicial Review - Mentalcapacity&JR@hscni.net

Emergency Children Law - Emergencychildrenlaw@hscni.net

Mental Health Tribunal - Mentalhealthtribunal@hscni.net

Please do not post or deliver hard copy mail to our office at this time.

STATEMENT FROM DLS

The Directorate of Legal Services provides legal representation to all the public Health and Social Care Bodies in Northern Ireland, including the Belfast, Northern, Southern, Western and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts, the NI Ambulance Service Trust, Business Services Organisation, Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency. 

Our office is now closed and we will now be working in a very limited capacity from home.  However, our access to our normal IT systems may be severely limited due to the huge demand for remote access on the HSC IT network.

Many of you will have seen the video posted at the weekend by the Respiratory Team at the Belfast Trust which captures the pressures facing our clinical colleagues in the HSC in the face of this pandemic.

In addition to the direct impact of the current situation on our legal practice, we are also seeking to highlight the position of our clients.  In a recent case, Mrs Justice Keegan noted that the case in question “had involved the significant expenditure of scarce resource by the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency in time of crisis”.  At this time of extraordinary and unprecedented pressure on our health and social care system, clinical and social care professionals and those in senior decision-making roles are focused on working to protect all of our citizens.  Indeed, many HSC staff, potentially including ourselves, may be redeployed to other duties within the health system to assist in this effort.  For the sake of our families and yours, we want to ensure that these professionals can remain focused on this critical work as far as possible. 

It is against this background that we are asking all our colleagues in the legal profession for your forbearance during this emergency period.  We recognise, of course, that urgent and emergency cases must be attended to in line with the Guidance issued by the Lord Chief Justice, but more routine work involving HSC Bodies must inevitably take a back seat for now. 

We appreciate your understanding at this time.

June Turkington

Chief Legal Adviser (Acting)