This is the guidance from the Law Society about Home visits and Wills as at 23.3.20
What are a solicitor’s professional obligations if they are unable to provide the services required, due to coronavirus?
You should notify the client as soon as practical that due to coronavirus issues the service cannot be provided, and suggest that they try another solicitor (perhaps giving a list of three alternatives or a link to the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor service).
If the matter is due to complete shortly then seeking a deferral of completion is a sensible step, or asking another colleague to complete the deal.
You should ensure that your out of office response for emails has the latest information. It is important the client does not lose out because they think you are going to respond.
What’s the guidance where work involves home visits, care home visits, hospice and hospital visits to clients who are often seriously ill, if not near to death?
In general, we recommend following the government advice which is being regularly updated and at the time of writing includes good hygiene habits and social distancing.
If the client is in a risk category, it is preferable to find a way to deal with the matter remotely, for example by Skype.
If you judge that a physical visit is imperative, choose personnel who are not a risk to the client and who are not at high risk themselves. Both the client and the employee will need to agree to the meeting despite any risk.
If you cannot assist in the above circumstances, an urgent referral to another solicitor may be appropriate.
Could it be considered unreasonable to refuse to take instructions for emergency wills from prospective clients (in vulnerable risk categories), bearing in mind prospective clients can bring complaints to LeO for ‘unreasonable refusal of service’?
No one can be forced to give legal advice in such circumstances. If you believe that following the government’s advice on good hand and general hygiene and social distancing is impractical due to the location of the prospective client then you are free to decline instructions.
You should, however, act reasonably and assess the measures in place rather than adopt a blanket ban. Keep a clear and detailed record of your reasons for declining to act, including any distancing and hygiene restrictions difficulties or personal circumstances such as self-isolation which apply.
We would also recommend putting your operating arrangements on your website, so that potential customers will have notice when they enquire.
A message from Liverpool Law Society’s Non-Contentious Business Committee Chair:
“Please let me know if you would like to discuss anything, the situation is fluid at the moment and is likely to be so for at least the next 12 weeks, possibly more. I may well not have the answers but together we need to pull together to continue to serve the community.”