24 March 2020
Statement from Directorate of Legal Services
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
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”.
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
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
We appreciate your understanding at this time.