O’Sullivan Davies Newsletter #6 (February 2022)

2022 is the start of a new year.

At O’Sullivan Davies, it is business as usual. 

In this edition of the O’Sullivan Davies newsletter, we discuss the continuing uncertainty resulting from COVID-19, legislative and structural changes in the Australian family law system and key events from 2021.

COVID-19

COVID-19 continues to have an impact on families in Western Australia, particularly with recent outbreaks.

As of 10 January 2022, children over 5 years of age have been able to book and receive vaccinations. Click here for further information.

We are currently unsure when Western Australia’s borders will open to national and international travellers.

Although we’re yet to see how this will play out, interstate and international travel and vaccination issues will remain matters that the Family Court of Western Australia must manage for families seeking its assistance.

For families in states and territories other than Western Australia, the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has created a specialist COVID-19 list to deal with urgent applications filed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An article by our Alexander Mondia examining the changes to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in the eastern states is available here.

Although the Family Court of Western Australia doesn’t have a dedicated COVID-19 list, these are issues that will undoubtedly impact Western Australian families and lead to further applications.

An article by our Anthony Worrall examining the importance of filing deadlines is available here.

On 1 February 2022, a Direction was issued which outlined that legal practitioners need to be partly vaccinated for COVID-19 by 5 February 2022 and fully vaccinated by 5 March 2022 in order to attend the Family Court of Western Australia and other courts and tribunals, unless exempt. Practitioners will need to provide evidence of their vaccination status if asked to do so. 

Parties and witnesses may also be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status but are not at this stage required to be vaccinated. Click here for further information.

On 3 February 2022, a Public Notice was issued by the Family Court of Western Australia which recommends that only legal practitioners, parties, their support person (if applicable) and witnesses should attend court events. All persons attending court must comply with the requirements in relation to masks. Any person who is unwell or has COVID-19 like symptoms should not attend court. 

The Public Notice also outlined that all court hearings and conferences will be conducted by telephone or Microsoft Teams from 28 February 2022. Click here for further information.

O’Sullivan Davies are prioritising the health and safety of our staff, clients and visitors to our office by requiring that any person attending our office after 7 February 2022 be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or provide a current medical exemption. Any person who is unwell or has COVID-19 like symptoms should not attend our office and call us to make alternative arrangements. If a person is not fully vaccinated or does not wish to disclose their vaccination status, we will make arrangements to assist them by telephone appointment or online meeting.

Social events in 2021

On 8 July, our friends at BRI Ferrier arranged a pizza and pool evening. A great night of networking with some great pool skills on display and delicious wood-fired pizza.

After a number of rescheduled bookings due to COVID-19, O’Sullivan Davies’ 21st birthday party was held at the Ritz-Carlton on 16 July. Celebrating 21 years in Family Law in Western Australia, this milestone evening was full of good memories and faces old and new who have made a significant contribution to O’Sullivan Davies over the years. 

On 26 August, O’Sullivan Davies hosted Kerrin Girando from Breast Cancer Care WA as part of our OSD Presents series. For 20 years, Breast Cancer Care WA has provided no-cost counselling, nursing and financial support to people affected by breast cancer and their families. Breast cancer affects many people and it was great to have this insight into their work and the ways we can assist.

On 30 September, O’Sullivan Davies hosted Professor Nigel Laing and Dr Gina Ravenscroft of the Harry Perkins Institute as part of our OSD Presents series. They presented about their work in rare disease genetics and the Australian Reproductive Carrier Screening Project  which offers genetic screening to couples to identify if they may have an increased chance of having children with serious genetic conditions and test for conditions where early treatment can improve health outcomes.

On 21 October, O’Sullivan Davies hosted a number of other firms for a quiz night, organised and run by our very own quizmaster, Anthony Worrall.

On 4 November, O’Sullivan Davies hosted Christian Golding as part of our OSD Presents series. He presented on global megatrends and the forces that will affect social and economic trends in the near future.

On 1 December, O’Sullivan Davies hosted Social Media Spritz with Amanda Kendle as part of our OSD Presents series. She presented on the pro and cons of using social media to promote businesses.

Legislation changes

The Family Court Act 1997 was amended by the Family Court Amendment Bill 2021 to ban de facto partners from personally cross-examining one another where there has been allegations or findings of family violence. Giving evidence at trial is often a harrowing experience and these protections aim to improve the ability of people who have experienced Family Violence to give evidence and avoid being directly cross-examined by their former partner. These amendments harmonise the position for both de facto and married parties.

O’Sullivan Davies Family Lawyers celebrate ten years at the top in WA (26 November 2021)

The Doyle’s Guide is a global publication that ranks leading lawyers and law firms compiled by independent research based on reviews by clients, peers and relevant industry bodies.

O’Sullivan Davies  was recognised as a First Tier Firm for the tenth consecutive year in the 2022 Doyle’s Guide for Western Australia Family Law rankings released in November 2021.

Our Andrew Davies was again awarded ‘preeminent’, the highest ranking for a family lawyer in the Doyle’s Guide.

Five of our lawyers, Trevor O’Sullivan, Andrew Davies, Nicola Watts, Nicola Jansen and Ryan van der Merwe, were individually named across five rankings for excellence in Family Law with individual honours in the areas of High Value/Complex Matters, Parenting Matters and Mediation.

Recognition by Doyle’s Guide – Australia-wide (10 December 2021)

O’Sullivan Davies was also recognised as a Leading Firm in the 2022 Doyle’s Guide for Australia Family Law rankings released in December 2021..

Our Andrew Davies was recognised as one of the Leading Family Lawyers in Australia and the highest-ranked Western Australian practitioner in the rankings.

O’Sullivan Davies staff re-elected to Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Western Australia (FLPA) (November 2021)

Congratulations to our Nicola Jansen and Bethany Moller, who were re-elected to FLPA as Treasurer and Secretary respectively.

Nicola Watts re-elected as Family Law Section (FLS) Treasurer (9 December 2021)

Congratulations to our Nicola Watts, who was re-elected to serve as Treasurer of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. 

Nicola has been elected by her peers to represent Western Australia on the Executive since 2016 and is the Chair of the Organising Committee for the Family Law Section’s 20th National Family Law Conference, which will take place in Perth in October 2024.

Andrew Davies’ contribution as Chair to the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM) to the FLS’ Duty List (15 December 2021)

Our Andrew Davies hosted Episode 25 of the FLS Duty List, which focussed on arbitration.

The episode can be watched here

 

ARTICLES IN THIS NEWSLETTER

Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

Time limits for property settlement