Peter Boyce fears a major shutdown of the court system is imminent. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Peter Boyce fears a major shutdown of the court system is imminent. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Court shutdown imminent tips prominent lawyer

HIGH-profile lawyer Peter Boyce says he thinks a shutdown of the justice system is imminent, as the coronavirus pandemic fallout continues.

Mr Boyce, who began practising as a solicitor in 1977, is the principal of Butler McDermott Lawyers.

Speaking from Ipswich, where he was working on a District Court matter this week, Mr Boyce said he felt "it was imminent" that the courts would close down, with only absolutely essential matters to be heard.

He said an announcement had been made barring friends and spectators from the court this week, with only legal representatives and those appearing allowed in the building.

Mr Boyce, who had a staff of 30 at his Nambour-based firm, said the closest he'd seen courts get to shutdown was the annual Christmas skeleton staff period, but he expected it was not long until that became the norm.

"Courts are setting down things that are only absolutely essential," he said.

"We're hoping for the best but we're also preparing for the worst."

Legal practitioners had been urged around the state to identify urgent Supreme and District Court matters where the defendants were in custody and approaching the period likely to be served on any sentence, and if possible, apply for judge-only trials.

A shift to audiovisual link-only sentencing was also flagged, as measures were introduced to try and restrict the spread of the virus.


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