Firstly, we hope that you, your loved ones and friends are well and remain well throughout this current health crisis. If you are unwell we wish you a speedy recovery.
The Government have issued further guidance and advice concerning the effect that the coronavirus outbreak will have on home moving. Throughout this crisis we have endeavoured to follow Government advice to the best of our ability so as to protect the welfare of our staff and clients and to protect our client’s interests. There is, however, only so much that we can achieve in the current crisis bearing in mind the ongoing restrictions in respect of self isolation and social distancing. We have seen the effect that this has on making arrangements for exchange and completion as well as the actual moving process.
It is clear that proceeding with a transaction at this time is a high risk activity both in terms of the transaction itself and in respect of the risks posed to the health of our clients and our staff. The recent government advice further restricts our ability to progress matters for you.
With immediate effect, so that we can comply with Government guidance, the measures listed below will be followed by this firm. These are measures that we regard as essential for the protection of our clients and our staff. It may be, however, that in the days and weeks to follow we will further limit our work in order to comply with any additional Government guidance, legislation and regulation.
- We will not be exchanging contracts. Obviously you will have some input in this but contracts will be exchanged only in exceptional circumstances. Due to the seriousness of the situation should you wish to state that exceptional circumstances apply to your matter this will be considered but your matter would only proceed if a director deems it necessary. In this regard the safety of our staff will be paramount.
- With your agreement, any matter that has been exchanged will be reviewed and efforts made with the relevant parties to agree to extend the completion date. Obviously various considerations will need to be taken into account including mortgage offers and removals. Please bear in mind that proceeding in the current circumstances is fraught with danger and should the matter not complete for any reason the contract will remain valid and you may suffer significant financial loss as a result.
- We shall be moving the day-to-day management of files to one office. This does not mean, however, that business will be as usual and it is likely that your file will be in a different office completely. We are taking steps to identify those matters that require urgent work but please understand that if you contact us it is unlikely that you will receive an immediate or even swift response. Work will need to be prioritised and those matters that can be effectively suspended will be pending the end of this crisis. The reality is, therefore, that we will not be able to deliver a service to the same standard as ordinarily expected. Circumstances are exceptional.
- If you do need to communicate with us please try your utmost to do so by email and only where it is absolutely necessary. If you need to communicate with us you can do so using the email address you already have and this will be automatically redirected. The telephone number is 01322 223223 but please only call in the case of extreme urgency. If you call about a routine matter then we may terminate the conversation and ask you to email so that we can to deal with more urgent matters.
- The majority of our staff will not be working during this period and, therefore, it is highly likely that the conveyancer who was initially allocated to your matter will not be the person monitoring it at this time. We cannot stress enough that it is highly likely that your matter will not be progressed for the time being. There may be circumstances when work will be necessary, including cases of emergency or where mortgage offers are about to expire etc. This will be rare and any work so conducted will be at the sole discretion of the supervising director.
- Our new temporary emergency arrangements will be put into effect as soon as possible. This may mean, therefore, that you receive this message prior to receiving any other correspondence that may have been dictated prior to this message being sent to you.
- Please help us help you by limiting your contact with us at this time to essential emails only. Emails will be monitored but are unlikely to be answered unless it is a matter of urgency or exceptional circumstances apply.
- Our wills and probate department will continue to operate as will our shared ownership department, lease extension department and, to a limited extent, our new build department. Every effort will be made, however, to ensure that relevant members of staff in these departments will be working from home. This will adversely affect our service standards. This situation may, however, change at very short notice and we would urge you, again, to limit your communication with us and to understand that, due to circumstances beyond our control, our normal level of service will be impossible to achieve.
- You are, of course, free to instruct other solicitors if you wish. Your file would be passed to them as soon as practicable taking into account other priorities and potential risk to our staff.
Thank you for your understanding.