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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: MESSAGE FROM DSC HEADS OF CHAMBERS

18th March 2020

We write to assure you that Doughty Street Chambers will remain open and prepared for legal business, notwithstanding the coronavirus emergency. Our commitment to access to justice as a basic right is unwavering as is the dedication of our barristers to the interests of their clients, both professional and lay. Our staff will continue reliably to support our professional responsibility.

Chambers is following government and Bar Council guidelines that are consistent with these responsibilities. We will be open at normal hours and our clerks and barristers will be available notwithstanding an encouragement to work from home if they can do so effectively. Our conference rooms are equipped with sanitisers (high alcohol, of course) and are large enough to allow seating at a healthy distance although it may be preferable to confer by Skype or telephone conference which our office staff can arrange. For cases listed in courts and tribunals, we are all in the hands of their administrators - some are already being postponed and others cancelled, but our clerks will do their best to keep track and inform you of the latest developments. In the case of clients in prisons, detention centres and the like, counsel will cooperate with you in making bail applications and in attempting to get visits or at least Skype or telephone access granted by their custodians.

We have not had any report of a member of staff or a barrister contracting the virus but have plans and protocols ready to manage any such event. All reasonable care is being taken to anticipate and to cope with the challenges that will inevitably arise over the next few months. But we can assure you that we will be open for business - if not business as usual, as close to normal as can reasonably be managed in these unprecedented times. We look forward to cooperating with you in avoiding both any risk of contagion and any risk of damage to your clients' interests.

If you have any concerns, please call our Head of People and Business Management Julie Ahadi on 020 7404 1313.

Many thanks,

Geoffrey Robertson QC, Ed Fitzgerald QC
Joint Heads, Doughty Street Chambers