Prisoners could potentially serve more time on remand than a sentence for their crime because lawyers cannot get timely access to video and telephone conferencing facilities in Queensland.
Face-to-face meetings between lawyers and their clients have been banned because of COVID-19.
The ban has forced lawyers to book video and telephone conferencing facilities through the Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) but there's an almost three-week wait, says one of Brisbane's top criminal barristers.
Jeffrey Hunter QC said the situation has become problematic despite the judiciary offering to sit as many judges as possible for sentencing hearings or bail applications.
"The problem is lawyers can't talk to their clients to make bail applications because there are not enough video-link facilities," Mr Hunter said.
"Lawyers need to resolve matters and get instructions, whether they are going to plead guilty or not, but if you can't talk to your client, you can't get instructions.
"If sentences are ready to go, they will hear them, but the point is getting matters that aren't currently listed for sentencing to be listed ... so people can get out."
Former Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said it was a significant issue.
He added that lawyers were likely to use COVID-19 as a reason for bail applications, because the virus could spread rapidly if it got inside a prison.
"There should be more bail applications but because prisons are in lockdown it's very difficult to get instructions," he said.
"I suspect we will see an increase in the number of bail applications citing COVID-19 as an 'exceptional circumstance'.
Beside lawyers having difficulty gaining access to their clients, he said the parole board needed to be lenient on housing requirements for anyone applying for parole,.
He said the coronavirus outbreak had made it difficult for prisoners to be precise about where they would be staying, especially if a housemate, for instance, contracted the virus.
"The parole board needs to look at amending their requirements for people to have accommodation when they're released," he said.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said QCS was working with prisoners, legal representatives and contract service providers to facilitate access to legal services through video-link systems.
"QCS is proactively assisting eligible remand prisoners and collaborating with external stakeholders with the intention of increasing bail cases heard by the courts," he said.