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Brethertons Coronavirus Update 6th January 2021

How Do The New Lockdown Regulations Impact The Provision Of Legal Services?

The new national lockdown came into force in England on 4th January 2021.

The government has now published regulations which can viewed at  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home  

In this post, Alison McCormack, CEO of Brethertons Solicitors, explains how the public can access legal advice during the lockdown.

Are Brethertons remaining open? 

We most certainly are. Law firms can remain open and our offices in Rugby and Bicester are manned and open. Our new “pop-up” office in South Bar  St, Banbury opened  on  the 1st December 2020. Details of office locations can be found on our contacts page.  In line with secure guidelines, all our offices are COVID-19 compliant.

The government guidance indicates that people can travel for a number of reasons, including to buy services from premises that are open.

Many of our lawyers fall within the definition of “key workers”– the definition of 'key workers’ includes:

  • advocates (including solicitor advocates) required to appear before a court or tribunal (remotely or in person), including prosecutors
  • other legal practitioners required to support the administration of justice including solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and others who work on imminent or ongoing court or tribunal hearings
  • solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills
  • solicitors and barristers advising people living in institutions or deprived of their liberty

Who can I contact to help me?

If you are an existing customer and we already have a file open for you , you can obtain your lawyers direct dial telephone

Listed below are the names and details of Brethertonians that you can call and speak to regarding new matters only.

Wills, Trusts and Probate -  01788 557722  

Divorce & Finance – Lisa Warden on 01788 557584

Children Matters - Kim Lehal on 01788 557670

Care Proceedings   - Matthew Montanaro on 01295 661552

Serious Injuries – Katie Crane on 01788 557621

Residential Conveyancing – 01788 557580  

Commercial Property - Julia McVeigh on 01788 557605

Enfranchisement/Residential Leasehold - Dani Green on 01295 661458

Employment Law - Tracey Kingsford on 01295 661509

Dispute Resolution/Litigation - Shaun Jardine 07866447 603

Company Commercial - Shaun Jardine 07866447 603

If you have received a demand for payment of Service Charges or Ground Rent and are calling to pay, then please call Property Management Payment Desk on : 01295 661515 or email  pma@brethertons.co.uk

If you are not sure which person to speak to, please use info@brethertons.co.uk or call

Is the property market closed?

Emphatically not!  The property market remains open and our conveyancing teams are incredibly busy. The regulations allow people to leave home for the purposes of conducting the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property:

  • visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes
  • viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or to rent
  • preparing a residential property to move in
  • moving house
  • visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property

Are the Courts still open?

Yes. The courts will remain open unless otherwise stated by the government. We are fortunate to have created our own virtual court room within our offices, so our lawyers are continuing to represent customers remotely as and when the courts list their matters for hearing.

Can customers visit a lawyer’s office?

Yes, if the visit is to fulfil  a legal obligation, it's acceptable for a person to leave home "to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court, or to participate in legal proceedings."

We can of course meet clients virtually and will, in the main (as we have since the pandemic started), continue to deliver legal services remotely.

Are solicitors able to visit clients at home? 

Possibly. Sorry to sound vague on this point.

The regulations provide under clause 11.3.  an exception on gatherings when these are necessary to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, including relevant personal care. The act states that personal care includes any form of advice or guidance which “is given to a person who is in need of it by reason of age, illness or disability”.

The Law Society is seeking to clarify with the government if it's acceptable for solicitors to attend a vulnerable client's home, for example, to deal with a private client matter (such as a lasting power of attorney) and will update  our customers as soon as the situation is confirmed.

Conclusion

Whilst these are challenging and troubling times for us all, Brethertons are still open and can deliver advice and support to our customers.

We appreciate that there are many stressful situations facing us all. Hopefully, engaging with a law firm need not be one of them.

We hope that all our customers, staff and contacts stay safe.