The update from the Law Society’s North Team was received by Liverpool Law Society on 21 May 2020. We hope members find it useful:
- Covid-19 Law Society General Resources and Support
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is changing day by day. The Law Society is monitoring the situation and developing advice and support to help you through these unprecedented times.
This North Update draws your attention to particular guidance, but stay up to date by visiting the Law Society’s regularly updated online resources for its latest advice here:
And, stay informed on what the Law Society is doing here:
- Law Society Summary of the Government’s Guidance on Return to the Office
See here the practical framework for law firms and sole practitioners on return to the office:
- Virtual Execution and e-signature during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Law Society has brought together a variety of established guidance in relation to virtual execution and the use of e-signatures and updated its practice notes in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions:
(See also below on the Land Registry announcement, and Statutory Declarations for Insolvency Proceedings).
- Land Registry Announcement re Signatures
The Land Registry has responded to Law Society concerns and announced that the
‘Mercury’ signing approach for deeds will be accepted from Monday 4 May. The Land
Registry is also introducing some changes to their requirements to make it easier to verify identity for land transactions. These are all temporary measures to address the current highly unusual COVID-19 situation.
Read The Land Registry’s announcement here.
- Protocol for Virtual Statutory Declarations relevant for Insolvency Proceedings
With the support of Lexis Nexis, the Law Society has now placed on its website a protocol for virtual statutory declarations relevant for insolvency proceedings. COVID-19 created
uncertainty over whether statutory declarations in insolvency proceedings could still safely be made and administered in person and whether, as an alternative, the process could validly be completely remotely using real-time video conference technology.
This protocol addresses that issue and can be found here.
- COVID-19, Guidance to Conveyancers advising Clients on House Moves
The Law Society has worked with others across the sector to develop guidance which enables professionals to complete moves while maintaining safety:
- COVID-19 Cybersecurity, Fraud Prevention and LawTech HUB
|The current lockdown has changed the way legal services are delivered. These changes have presented an opportunity for cyber-criminals and fraudsters. The Home Secretary has reported that cases of fraud and scams have increased significantly since lockdown.|
- The Law Society has published a new COVID-19 cybersecurity, fraud prevention and LawTech hub:
- This article on videoconferencing systems is particularly insightful:
- See also our cyberaware bitesize videos here:
- Jane Deal, Law Society IT Director, explores the most common questions on delivering legal services online in her podcast:
- Legal Practitioner Key Workers and Testing
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that solicitors recognised as key workers are eligible for COVID-19 testing. For full details, see:
- Website Section on dealing with COVID-19 and Pro Bono
Pro bono services have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in an unprecedented way. Charities have had to transition their staff to home working, as providing advice through face-to-face meetings is no longer possible. Emergency appeals have been made to make sure the advice sector remains viable, and the scale of demand has been overwhelming for many.
Read our guidance for those who are thinking of providing pro bono assistance during the pandemic here Coronavirus and Pro Bono
- Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Legal Practice
The Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG), which includes the Law Society of England and Wales and all the legal sector supervisors named in the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, has jointly published an advisory note, highlighting key AML risks and challenges for the legal profession associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
- SBA, The Solicitors’ Charity
SBA The Solicitors’ Charity has developed a unique webpage with details of support for solicitors who find themselves in personal hardship caused by the pandemic:
- Blog, Four Things to think about when considering Furlough Leave
Nick Denys, Law Society Policy Adviser, discusses the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and what you need to consider if you’re putting workers on furlough leave:
- Covid-19, Five Essential Issues and Business Support Tool for Smaller Firms
We set out five essential issues for consideration, and also a tool summarising the business support measures available to small firms during the pandemic:
- COVID-19, Wellbeing and Mental Health Resource
Promoting and supporting good mental health and wellbeing for solicitors is a key priority for the Law Society. We’re aware that the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing measures are having a significant impact on the profession. We’ve put together a set of resources to help you and your team
In particular, we interview David Beeney, mental health counsellor and founder of Breaking the Silence about the impact of COVID-19 and he gives tips on protecting mental health during this pandemic. Listen to the podcast here.
- Recording of the SRA’s latest Webinar, Covid-19 and Other Compliance Issues
The SRA’s Head of Legal Policy and Head of Ethics Guidance discuss how firms can better protect themselves against issues related to COVID-19 and other compliance challenges. The latest webinar references the Law Society’s work with the SRA, and is an opportunity to hear more about how their regulations are evolving and what this means for your firm in practical terms.
Watch the webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjJGpo2pXjI
- Covid-19 and Probate Service
The Law Society continues to meet with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and other key stakeholders to review the status of the probate service. For more details: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/stories/review-of-the-probate-service-in-light-of-covid-19/
(Also, the President of the Family Division has issued guidance on the replacement of affidavits with statements of truth in non-contentious probate processes. The guidance can be found here. )
- Legal Aid Agency Coronavirus Guidance
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance here:
- Vulnerable Groups set to benefit from Improved Legal Aid Support
The Ministry of Justice announced improvements to legal aid support. Read the full press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vulnerable-groups-set-to-benefit-from-improved-legal-aid-support
- COVID-19 Law Society engagement with the Legal Ombudsman
The Law Society has been engaging with the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. We also lobbied LeO to provide its own guidance to firms. LeO has issued Guidance on its approach to complaints during the COVID-19 Crisis.
- Resumption of Jury Trials
Four Crown Courts, including Manchester (Minshull Street), have been assessed as
currently suitable to hold jury trials and will begin to do so from w/c 25 May. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the safety of all who use the court and tribunal buildings has been a key priority for the Law Society. We would encourage practitioners to report any poor practice they see on the ground via this reporting form. Read the full summary here.
COVID-19, Renewing your Firm’s Professional Indemnity Insurance
The Law Society has compiled a list of some of the issues and possible solutions that you should consider if you’re renewing your firm’s professional indemnity insurance during the coronavirus pandemic:
- SRA provides Clarity on the Furloughing of Trainees
We are pleased that following discussions with the Law Society, the SRA has updated its Education and Training Q&A Section dealing with furloughing headed “My firm has put me on furlough. What should I do next?”, and it can be found here:
- EU Commission proposes DAC 6 Referral
The European Commission has published a proposal to postpone the requirement to make first reports under DAC 6 by three months, recognising the disruptive effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on businesses and tax administrations.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and UK Immigration for Workers and Employers
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted visa applications and led the government to make temporary changes to the rules for businesses and their employees. This guide explains the changes that immigration solicitors should be aware of:
- Podcasts supporting Trainees not offered Associate Positions on Qualification
The Law Society has put together two new podcasts aimed at 2nd year trainees approaching qualification.
Part one gives advice for trainees on navigating the internal qualification process or external NQ market in light of COVID-19.
Part two offers tips for trainees on marketing themselves, including application and interview.