COVID -19 – Advice on how we are working to help our clients
We have continued to work throughout the Coronavirus pandemic because we provide essential legal services for children, families and the elderly and infirm.
This page was updated on 5th November 2020
The Government has been trying to ease restrictions since the full lockdown ceased a few weeks ago, but in recent weeks in South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and County Durham areas have seen a spike in cases and this has caused concern. In other areas of the country the infection rate, death rate and R-rate has been increasing.
Public Health England have been providing additional support to Local Authorities but most of the North East was placed in a Tier 2 local lockdown on 17th September 2020.
We are now entering a month long national lockdown on 5th November 2020 to 2nd December 2020.
We understand that under the terms of the new national Lockdown, you may only leave your home for specific reasons.
These will include:
- Work, if you cannot work from home;
- Exercise and recreation outdoors, either with own household or bubble, or on your own with one person from another household or bubble;
- For medical reasons, appointments ( that include legal appointments), or to escape injury or harm, including domestic abuse;
- To shop for food and essentials;
- To provide care for vulnerable people or as a volunteer.
More detailed information is available from the Government here
The most frequent question we have been asked since the new National Lockdown was announced is whether moving house is still allowed. Unless the advice changes we understand that buying and selling property is till allowed bearing in mind that the transaction may be affected if one or other party suffers from Covid-19 especially around the completion date. For further advice please read our latest news.
If you are worried about your conveyancing transaction please call our office on 0191 4555361 for further advice.
During the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions we have continued to work to support our clients to:
- Deal with issues relating to child abuse and child safety and to deal with proceedings and concerns raised by the Local Authority
- Deal with issues relating to domestic abuse and urgent safety concerns
- Assist our clients with their Will instructions
- Help our clients if there is a death in the family
- Assist our clients with their property transactions and conveyancing
We are socially distancing in our offices and some of our staff work from home when it is possible to do so. None of our staff are furloughed.
We are still keeping our office front door closed and generally not accepting visitors to our offices. but from 22nd June 2020 we have been able to make some limited arrangements for face to face appointments only if absolutely necessary which can take place in our office and at clients homes. If a face to face appointment is arranged we will try to maintain a Covid-safe environment depending on where the appointment takes place and where we can’t ensure safety for our staff and our clients we will not proceed with the face to face appointment. We maintain safety by wearing masks, using hand sanitiser and keeping a safe distance.
You should not accept a face to face appointment arrangement if you have been in contact with anyone with coronavirus, tested positive or been advised to self-isolate as this will put our staff at risk.
You should not travel to our office without phoning or emailing us as you will not be seen and under the new rules from 5th November you should only leave your house to travel to our offices unless you have a confirmed the arrangement with us.
We still manage most of our appointments by phone and if you would like to have an appointment to be seen face-to-face you should first contact us by phone and if a face-to face appointment is necessary your lawyer will make arrangements with you.
Our working hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).
We have increased the frequency of cleaning of our offices and follow all other measures to make our office Covid secure.
We do not have to display a QR Code to scan so you don’t need a mobile phone with the app to be able to visit us.
Our legal staff are still allowed to enter your home for appointments as the visit is for legal purposes, but because we know how careful we must all be during the new lockdown we are limiting our home visits unless they are absolutely necessary or urgent.
Until 2nd December we will only arrange to see you if t is absolutely necessary or urgent. After December 2nd we will follow Government and Local Authority guidelines as we may enter a Tier restriction once the National Lockdown ends. We will update this page after December 2nd.
As a firm we want to assist in the fight against this deadly virus and the best way we can do that is by limiting face to face contact.
Presently, we can’t see any clients in local nursing homes because of the preventative measures in reaction to the recent spike in positive infections and the local council has stopped all visiting.
When we confirm an appointment only our client should attend the appointment. If anyone accompanies our client to the appointment they will be asked to wait outside the office.
The front door will remain closed to ensure we can control who is entering our office.
If you are dropping off documents to us please knock on our front door and one of our staff will open it to accept your documents.
If you need to sign documents and your signature needs to be witnessed by us we may ask you to remain outside to sign the documents or may invite you into the hallway of our building.
We want to keep our staff and clients safe from infection and to work safely and we request any visitors to our office to observe social distancing.
When an appointment is confirmed our client will be advised at the time of making the appointment that:
- If they have any signs and symptoms of a Covid-19 infection (high temperature, cough, loss of taste & smell, etc.) that they should not attend the office
- That their temperature may be taken on entry to our offices
- To wear a mask which you must be supplied by the client
- That when they arrive they will be asked to apply anti-bac to their hands
- That only the client will be seen (not anyone else who accompanies them)
- They should bring their own pen to sign any documents
- If we have to provide name and contact details to Public Health England or any other Track and Trace organisation as required by law we will do so. Normally your contact details and visit to our office would be kept confidential. We would not divulge the reasons why your visit was made or what was discussed at your visit.
We have a thermal thermometer to enable us to take clients temperatures while maintaining social distancing. If the temperature is in the green reading we can proceed with the appointment.
If the temperature reading is in the amber or red results we will not proceed with the appointment.
When the client attends our office the lawyer seeing the client will go to the front door to collect their client, take the client temperature and take their client to their office. On the way to and from the front door all inner doors will be open so the client does not have to touch any surfaces.
Our fee earners may choose to wear a mask during the appointment. We will socially distance during appointments but the new lockdown measures and advice from the Law Society states that masks should be work by our clients during appointments. We expect a suitable and safe mask to be worn.
We have plenty of anti-bac wipes and anti-bac hand lotion. Your lawyer will ensure that their office is wiped before and after the appointment with anti-bac wipes and that you use the anti-bac hand lotion.
Ways to contact us
The best way to contact us presently is by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 0191 4974630 or 0191 4555361
- If your children’s well-being and care is being reviewed by the Local Authority please don’t hesitate to contact us.
- If you have any issues relating to domestic violence please don’t hesitate to contact us. There is more information here
- If you require a Will please phone our office and we will advise on the procedure for making a Will while maintaining social distancing.
- If there has been a death in your family and you require assistance we can support you.
We would urge everyone to follow Government advice – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Specific legal services
Since 13th May 2020 moving home has been possible with conveyancing given the green light to commence again. Under the new lockdown from 5th November to 2nd December moving house is still allowed. Please remember that buying and selling a house may take longer because it may take longer for searches to be processed and the banks and lenders may furlough staff who process mortgages. Estate Agents and Surveyors are still open.
How to move safely during COVID-19 – read the guidance here
We are providing conveyancing quotations, so if you need advice on how much our fees and disbursements are for selling or buying a property please get in touch.
Please call 01019 4555361 or email: email@example.com
Children and Family
Our family and children services have been providing support for our clients throughout the crisis.
The Courts are still open with some Court hearings being provided by phone or video conferencing only, but the Courts have resumed face to face hearings in some circumstances which will take place in the Court buildings.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need urgent help in a domestic abuse situation or if the Council has contacted regarding your children and their care.
We are taking appointments for initial advice for family matters, where possible these appointments will be conducted by telephone, and our staff will advise you is a face to face appointment is necessary.
For help or more information please call 01019 4555361 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please give us a call if you need a new Will or if your existing Will needs to be amended.
It is especially important to have a Will if you are living with your Partner but not married. If you are married and do not have a Will it is usual for the surviving spouse to inherit, but where there is no marriage the law regarding inheritance is not beneficial to the remaining partner unless there is a Will in place.
For a Will to be valid it has to be signed by the person making the Will and a further two other persons who sign to attest that they have witnessed the person making the Will sign the document. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the Will and must sign their signatures at the same time that the person making the Will signs their signature.
When you call us we will explain how we manage the process for you to ensure that a valid Will is produced.
Please call 01019 4555361 or email: email@example.com
If you need to return documents to us please call or email and we will advise you how to do this.
If documents need to be witnessed i.e. a new Will that requires your signature and signatures of witnesses we will advise you on the signing procedure which will keep you and our staff as safe as possible.
During the crisis we have not been able to consider ways in which we can further help the community in which we work other than by continuing to provide our services, but as the restrictions ease and our office eventually returns to normal working we will consider how best to continue to support the community in which we work.
Our present working hours are: 9am – 5 pm and we can be contacted on 0191 4555361 and we can make arrangements for face to face appointments.
Any call received on Saturday, Sunday or during a Bank Holiday will be returned on the next working day.
We do not offer criminal defence services during or out of office hours – please call a firm that deals with criminal defence if you need help in that respect.
When our office is closed it is best to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please try to stay safe.