So we are now well into lockdown 2 in England but hopefully it is not quite as drastic on working life as the first time – thankfully there is less home schooling, banana bread making and Joe Wicks too! Wales has come out of their ‘circuit break’ and the central belt of Scotland is working under Tier 3 restrictions. Back in March, EVERYTHING stopped so what about this time?
It appears that for the legal sector there is a lot of good news.
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government took to social media to reveal that the housing market would still be able to operate.
In a tweet Mr Jenrick wrote:
Housing market update ahead of Thursday’s measures:
– Renters & homeowners will be able to move
– Removal firms and estate agents can operate
– Construction sites can and should continue
– Tradespeople will be able to enter homes
– But all must follow the Covid safety guidance
The market is still facing an unprecedented busy time with buyers desperately trying to beat the Stamp Duty Land Tax SDLT holiday deadline so the ability to keep operating will be welcomed.
More good news for the profession is if it is necessary then solicitors can meet clients. The Law Society said it has met with officials from various government departments this week and secured agreement on interpretation of the rules that law firm offices are able to remain open during this period.
Solicitors and law firm staff should work from home if possible but if this is not possible, they can leave home to work in the office. Solicitors must try to see clients remotely and deliver services virtually, but again if this is not possible then face-to-face meetings are permitted.
People are allowed to leave their home to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court, or to participate in legal proceedings. They can also access public services such as asylum or immigration advice or services provided by charities and voluntary organisations.
So to summarise the stress of everything absolutely shutting shop is not there this time.
However how are firms and business owners coping?
You may have seen Philip Armstrong a conveyancer solicitor in Northern Ireland blow off some steam on LinkedIn last week. My friend at Todays Conveyancer told me to give it a watch and it really struck a cord with me how lawyers are struggling and how they seem to bearing the brunt of a lot of stresses that everyone is having at the moment.
While business is continuing it is at a much slower rate than usual and clients seem to really be taking this out on their lawyers. Some clients…and I stress SOME…are raging! They are fed up with restrictions/worrying about family members/lacking social contact/may have financial worries/work stresses and at the moment that is being taken out with anyone who listens to them – their lawyer! Areas such as conveyancing which can be emotive at the best of times really seem to be taking a kick from clients at the moment!
Give Philip a watch and a follow, he has published another video since then and if the video gives you nothing else other than realising you are not alone then I hope that gives some comfort this year. It is also quite nice to see and hear from other people – even if it is on a video!
Now I am off to do a Joe Wicks (I lied, I’m not fed up of him yet!)
Emma O’Day, Head of Marketing and Communications