The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the way lawyers, insurers, doctors, courts and tribunals communicate. There has been a significant shift towards electronic file management and contactless communications such as email, telephone and video-conferences.
Although our office is still open and it is our preference to meet with our clients face-to-face when providing legal advice, given the COVID-19 situation we now primarily communicate with clients via telephone or video-link software. We are also sending letters via email, rather than by post, wherever possible. Our office is still open, so for any matters that need to be attended to in person, we can still hold conferences at our office with social distancing measures in place.
Many of our clients have upcoming medico-legal assessments. Where those medical assessments cannot be conducted face-to-face due to COVID-19 concerns, we are generally able to re-arrange the appointments to be conducted by telephone or video-link. It is important that our clients continue to undergo medical assessments so their injuries can be assessed and their claims can progress.
A number of our clients have claims at various stages in the courts. In SA, most court and tribunal hearings are now being conducted by phone, rather than in a court room setting. Court settlement conferences are being held by telephone or at an alternative venue such as our office. Court registries are currently still open to receive documents, however we will soon be able to file most documents electronically with the introduction of the new courts e-filing system. We have found that these changes in court processes have not slowed any of our court matters, but they have changed the way we communicate with the court and other parties.
The current measures are revised as new public health announcements are made, and we are constantly monitoring the situation and adapting to the changes.
Our priority is to ensure that, despite the changes brought on by COVID-19, our clients still receive a high level of service and their claims continue to progress with as little disruption as possible.