Coronavirus – FAQ

Coronavirus – FAQ
27 Mar 2020

(updated 5th November July 2020)


Our offices

Q. Is your office at Avon House, 4 Bridge Street, Christchurch, Dorset open?

A. Following the announcement by the Government of a second lockdown starting on 5th November 2020 then we can confirm that our offices will only be available for client meetings, strictly by appointment, where a suitable alternative (i.e. a video call) is not possible.

As we are limiting the number of visitors to our offices for the safety of our clients and team, please do telephone if you wish to attend our offices for any reason to make arrangements.

For more information please contact us enquiries@williamsthompson.co.uk; 01202 484242


Meetings

Q. Can I have a meeting with someone at your firm?

A. Our offices will only be available for client meetings, strictly by appointment, where a suitable alternative (i.e. a video call) is not possible.

Where possible we would ask that you be available for a telephone or video call meetings. We are able to call you using Skype, Microsoft Teams or Zoom and some of our fee earners can also call you on Facetime.


Contact

Q. How do I contact your office and solicitors?

A. Please continue to call our main number 01202 484242 or email us either at enquiries@williamsthompson.co.uk or direct to your solicitor at

Stephen Bowden – Property sb@williamsthompson.co.uk

Amanda Bartlett – Property ab@williamsthompson.co.uk

Suzanne Kadziola – Admin & Accounts sk@williamsthompson.co.uk

Emma Hamilton Cole – Family ehc@williamsthompson.co.uk

Charlotte Millard – Family cm@williamsthompson.co.uk

David Orr – Probate & Wills do@williamsthompson.co.uk


Correspondence?

Q. Can I still send you post?

A. We are still receiving post and indeed some documents must be sent to us in the post where we require original documents. However, we are trying to work electronically where possible and so we are asking clients to now scan and email us documents where appropriate. 


Probate

Q. I need to prepare a Will, is this still possible?

A. Our offices will only be available for client meetings, strictly by appointment, where a suitable alternative (i.e. a video call) is not possible. We are also happy to have a telephone or video meeting with you in order to take your Will instructions. A draft Will will then be sent to you for your review and approval. If you are happy with the Will as drafted then we can send the engrossed Will to you for your signature and return. As some of our solicitors are currently working from home, it may take several days before a draft Will can be sent to you. We thank you for your patience at this time. 

Q. How will I know how to sign my Will?

A. When sending the Will to you we will explain in detail how a Will is to be signed. We will all send signing instructions for you to refer to. Once you have signed the Will we would ask that you return the document to our office so that we can check that it has been executed correctly. Should the Will need to be resigned, we can send a further copy to you with an explanation as to why the Will needs to be resigned. Should you have any questions prior to signing your Will then please telephone the office and a Solicitor will return your call to answer any questions or concerns that you may have. 

Q. I am an Executor who has instructed Williams Thompson to deal with the administration of an Estate. Will this matter be affected by the outbreak of Covid-19? 

A. Whilst some of our solicitors continue to work from home, a large part of the administration of an Estate depends on correspondence with third parties and the closing of assets and settling of liabilities. We are finding that many businesses, government offices and companies are currently working on reduced hours with a reduced workforce. This means that there is a delay in asset and liability companies dealing with matters at present. The administration of an Estate may be delayed by several weeks or months as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19. We will continue to progress the administration of an Estate where possible. Should you wish to discuss a matter, or how present circumstances may affect the administration of an Estate, please do not hesitate to telephone or email the office and your solicitor will be happy to discuss this with you. 


Residential Property

Q. Can I instruct you to act for me in connection with a sale and/or purchase

A.  Our property department is working from the office and we will be more than happy to have a telephone call to discuss your requirements.

Q. I am a tenant and unable to pay my rent. Can my landlord evict me?

A. A landlord cannot evict you without following the correct procedure. Check this website out https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/coronavirus for information about what help is available.


Commercial Property

Q. I run a business and want to know where I can find information about the help available from the government?

A. You should check this website out https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/ and also speak to your bank.

Q. I am a landlord of a commercial property and my tenant has missed paying the rent. What can I do?

A. These are most exceptional times and businesses up and down the country are experiencing things that many businesses never anticipated including the complete collapse of their income.

The government advice for businesses is available here https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/ . Are you able to claim anything? Can the tenant claim any funds?

Everyone is in a similar position as the economy stalls due to the lockdown. We would suggest that given the current crisis that parties take a pragmatic approach and try to reach an agreement regarding the arrears of rent. If the tenant has no money coming in then they are probably unable to pay you the rent. If the tenant intends to reopen once the crisis has come to an end then can you agree for them to pay you the arrears at that later stage when they have money coming in?

Q. I am a tenant of a commercial property and I am unable to pay the rent?

A. These are most exceptional times and businesses up and down the country are experiencing things that many businesses never anticipated including the complete collapse of their income.

The government advice for businesses is available here https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/ . Are you able to claim anything? Can the landlord claim any funds?

Everyone is in a similar position as the economy stalls due to the lockdown. We would suggest that given the current crisis that parties take a pragmatic approach and try to reach an agreement regarding the arrears of rent. If you have no money coming in then you are probably unable to pay the rent. If you intend to reopen once the crisis has come to an end then can you agree with the landlord to pay the arrears at that later stage when you have money coming in?


Family Team

Q. What happens about my child arrangements if only essential travel is allowed?

A. The Courts have issued guidance which you can find here :-

https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-crisis-guidance-on-compliance-with-family-court-child-arrangement-orders/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=

In generally arrangements should continue as far as possible but we advise parents to discuss how they would plan to deal with things if either parent has to self-isolate as a result of symptoms in their household and how the relationship between the children and both parents can be maintained.  The use of technology such as facetime and Skype can be a valuable resource and it may be worth parents testing the use of this in case it is required

 Q. What is going to happen to my court hearing?

A. Most hearings can still happen by phone or in some cases through video hearing.  The Courts are currently working to contact parties involved in cases for hearing in the coming weeks to set this up.  In some cases it may be possible to avoid a hearing altogether by agreeing things in advance.  We are working with the Courts to ensure that your case is dealt with in the most straightforward way possible.  It may be that in some cases it is sensible to delay the hearing and again we will discuss that with you.

Q Can I still have mediation?

A. Yes,  The mediation rules have long provided for the possibility of mediation by Skype where its appropriate.  We are happy to offer mediation intake meetings and MIAMS by Skype as in the current environment that is the most appropriate way forward and enables our clients to access the mediation process without having to wait for social distancing to be relaxed.  If you would like more information please just contact us


 

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