FAQs on how Covid-19 is changing how we work

We have produced a series of FAQs to help you over the coming weeks as the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) affects how we work and the legal system overall. The measures we have put in place at Boyce Hatton ensure that we are looking after our staff and clients whilst still maintaining our ability to meet our clients needs.

How should I contact you if people are working from home?
We have robust IT systems in place that allow our staff to work from home with minimal disruption to them or you.
If you have an existing matter in progress, the best contact method would be to email your lawyer. You can also phone us; if we’re unable to answer direct lines please leave a message as these are emailed to staff, so they can access them and call you back.
If you have an enquiry for a new matter please either email us using [email protected], complete a form on our contact page or call us on 01803 403403

I have an existing matter with you, how can I find out what’s happening?
Our staff are able to work from home, enabling us to continue providing our service with minimal disruption. If you don’t hear from us you can assume your matter is not affected and is progressing as normal. We will be contacting any clients whose matter is affected.

Will my matter still progress as normal?
We are doing everything we can to ensure we continue to look after your needs and progress your matter.  However, this is a constantly changing situation and depends on having people fit and well to work, not only here but in the whole chain of your matter; be that other solicitors, courts or otherwise. In those situations we can’t be held responsible for any delay and won’t be able to provide the same service levels as we would in normal times. If we think you will be subject to any delays or changes we will notify you at the first opportunity.

I have a date for a court hearing coming up, will this still take place?
At the time of writing (18th March 2020) the courts remain open and operating as normal. If you don’t hear from us you can assume your hearing is going ahead. If you’re unable to attend due to illness, please notify your lawyer as soon as possible. We are continuing to liaise with the Courts and will update clients should this position change.

HMCTS is increasing their use of video and telephone hearings during the outbreak.

I would like to write a Will
In the first instance please email us at [email protected], complete a form on our contact page or call us on 01803 403403. Where possible we can work with you via email and telephone to begin the process of drafting your Will. If you are in a vulnerable group and self-isolating (but displaying no symptoms) we may be able to arrange to visit you at home.  These decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis.

Do I still need to get my Will physically signed?
To be valid a Will has to be signed in the presence of 2 people who cannot be the beneficiaries under your Will or the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary. Generally, this usually means no close family members. We have always therefore been willing to provide witnesses to help with the signing procedure. Currently, if you need to have a Will signed, please follow the below:
a) If you are self-isolating and/or you are within the high risk groups (over 70 , pregnant, heart condition, diabetes) please try to find 2 independent people who will be prepared to be your witnesses. We can give full instructions as to the procedure to follow.
b) If you cannot find any witnesses, provided you can confirm that you have shown no symptoms of Covid-19 for the last 5 days , we will be able to visit you briefly at home in order for you to sign your Will.
c) If you have shown symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 5 days, due to the risk to our staff we will not be able to assist you in the Will signing until you have been clear of symptoms for 5 days.
d) If you are not self-isolating and therefore you can confirm you have not shown symptoms of coronavirus, if you wish to come into the office we will be able to provide our normal service and can assist you with the Will signing procedure. Please arrange an appointment for this.

I’m not sure what the situation is for paying my employees if they’re self-isolating?
The Government is bringing in new measures to help employers and employees, including paying SSP from the first day of illness.  The current advice on the date of publishing (18th March 2020) is;
a) Employees who are off sick with Covid19 are entitled to SSP.
b) Employees who under medical advice (from their GP or 111) and told to self isolate are also entitled to SSP.
SSP is currently £94.25 per week for 28 weeks.If your business needs to take steps, allowing or telling employees to stay away from work, your employees may be entitled to full pay.
Employees who self isolate without advice or refuse to work are not entitled to pay and disciplinary action may be appropriateEvery business will have a different set of circumstances. If you have any concerns or questions on your employment policies and procedures please email us on [email protected] or complete a form on our contact page.

I’m due to complete a property purchase soon, will it still complete on time?
As far as possible, property completions will be business as usual.  Our teams are able to complete sales and purchases whilst working remotely to ensure you are able to move and any chain proceeds smoothly.
Should completion not take place after contracts have been exchanged due to the virus, the Law Society currently (18th March 2020) says the parties not completing will be in default. It says: ‘The contract provisions relating to default will apply unless the non-defaulting party takes a “good faith” view. If the transaction forms part of a chain of transactions, it may not be possible to take such a view without incurring a penalty.’
If there is any concern from yourselves or anyone in your chain please notify us as soon as possible.