“What can I say about George, other than the guy is not only great at what he does, but he’s honest, reassuring and a genuine pleasure to talk to. A few months back, my business
Alongside the health crisis being caused by Covid-19, the coronavirus is rapidly causing economic difficulties for business which, owing to what some consider to be not fast enough action by the Government, is leading to
A Business Perspective – Coronavirus/Covid-19
Award Winning C2 Safety: Jerome Timbrell, Managing Director, on working with us: “The decision to use Solicitors Title was made so much easier when we met face to face with Richard James, head of Solicitors
Setting up the First Health & Safety Franchise in the UK
Solicitors Title was the first law firm in the country to appreciate the vital health and safety benefits of live-streaming video technology for its clients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
We also set a new legal precedent on 1 May this year when, we supervised the first remotely executed video will for a client who was self-isolating 150 miles away in Surrey. This spared our client from any risk of being exposed to the coronavirus as well as allowing him to complete his will in the comfort and privacy of his home.
Dr Nicholas Bevan, senior associate solicitor, shared his ground breaking research with the government along with his proposals for an urgent intervention to encourage other lawyers to do the same.
Responding on the government’s behalf on 19 June this year, Lord Keen of Elie QC complimented our analysis, saying ‘It is an argument with force, set out in impressively comprehensive terms in Dr Bevan’s paper….I would like to thank him again for his detailed insights on the subject.’
On 25 July, the Government issued a press notice and guidance indicating that emergency legislation would be introduced in September. The Government’s proposals are based on Dr Bevan’s research.
Writing in the prestigious New Law Journal, in Where there’s a will there’s a way Dr Bevan shares the further clarification provided in Lord Keen QC’s most recent letter of 4 August on the Government’s proposed wills reform. Unfortunately, according to research released today by Today’s Wills & Probate, most law firms feel unequal to the task of executing wills using video technology.
Solicitors Title LLP, leads the will writing legal sector with this innovative nationwide private client service. We welcome enquiries from members of the public up and down the country. Our video witnessing will writing service has been devised to help anyone seeking to make a will in safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
For further details, please contact: Dr Nicholas Bevan on 01392 207900
Dr Bevan explains in Today’s Wills and Probate, how our detailed paper, calling for government intervention, persuaded the Justice Secretary to take decisive action to help self-isolating testators make their wills in safety. We are grateful to the Advocate General, Lord Keen QC, for his fulsome and gracious acknowledgement of the strength of our case for reform.
After Executing the first remote will in the UK, The Times’ law diary considers Solicitors Title’s landmark step and what possibilities the new law might bring, in Debate of the Week: Have Lawyer< Will Zoom, by Edward Fennell in The Times
Since the start of lockdown, necessitating a change in approach brought about by the pandemic, Solicitors Title and Dr Nicholas Bevan, have led a successful lone campaign to persuade the Government to sanction the most radical innovation in procedure for executing wills, in 343 years. The announcement legalising video wills being the first real change since King Charles II’s reign, under the Statute of Frauds 1677!
Such approval of Solicitors Title’s novel approach, utilising audio visual technology, enables private citizens to complete their will from the privacy and safety of their own homes, without having to travel into the office to sign their will in the presence of two witnesses. Alongside the obvious health benefit for anyone particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, such adoption of what is now common-place technology also aids convenience and discretion.
Our innovation has been made in the face of almost universal opposition from within the profession who believed, mistakenly, that section 9 of the Wills Act 1837 requires the testamentary witnesses to be physically present at the signing. The Government clearly shares our view that this is misconceived and this is why its guidance expressly states that it is not, in fact, changing the law; but merely clarifying it.
In light of such positive endorsement, yesterday we completed the world’s first completely remote cross-border will for a client in Crete.
On 29 July 2020 Solicitors Title LLP executed a will for an elderly client who had retired to live in Crete. The entire process of executing the will (signing, acknowledging and witnessing ) was undertaken remotely, using online live-streaming technology, from Solicitors Title LLP’s offices in the West Country. This is believed to be a world-wide precedent; unparalleled in any other jurisdiction.
On 1st May Solicitors Title set a new and important legal precedent. We believe that we have become the first law firm in the United Kingdom to prepare and execute a will electronically, in full conformity with section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. Our newly devised protocols protect our clients against any risk of exposure to Corvid 19 during the entire process: whether directly from the physical proximity of witnesses or indirectly from contact with contaminated surfaces.
On Monday 27 April, Solicitors Title was consulted by a self-isolating client who wanted to know whether it would be possible to sign and witness his will in complete safety and, at the same time, to avoid the indiscrete rigmarole and inconvenience of ‘drive-by’ and ‘through-window’ witnessing practiced by some enterprising law firms.
On 30th March the popular Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s (founded by “the godfather of Italian gastronomy” Antonio Carluccio, 21 years ago) entered administration, putting at risk its 71 UK restaurants.
The administrators had until yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) to decide whether to make staff redundant (being the expiry of the 14 day period, after which the administration would have been liable for their employment costs); leading to a rapid hearing to allow for a determination by the court.
Mr Justice Snowden’s High Court judgement, handed down yesterday, confirmed
We had recently been exploring start-up success and what makes the difference between those that are and those that are not; the Covid-19 pandemic and, particularly, the impact this is having on SME businesses has brought this question into even sharper focus, as business owners are faced with having to make very rapid decisions about the future.
So what issues and challenges are businesses facing?
Although the Government has now introduced a temporary relaxation of the wrongful trading rules, under s.214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 – where a director could be held personally liable and have to contribute towards a deficit if he or she continued to trade a company past a point where they “knew or ought to have concluded that there was no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvent liquidation” and did not take “every step with a view to minimising the potential loss to the company’s creditors” – a company’s general financial health and future prospects should feature highly on every board of directors’ agenda.
This temporary suspension of the wrongful trading rules will allow directors to continue to pay staff and suppliers, in preference to others, despite liabilities that might be overdue (potentially rendering the company insolvent), without the risks to them personally, that would normally be associated with continuing in these circumstances.
The purpose of the wrongful trading sanction being relaxed is to encourage directors to continue their businesses, in these unprecedented times, in the hope that instead of suffering a collapse, they instead emerge intact and able to rebuild once the Covid-19 pandemic is finally over.
If you would like further advice on your obligations and what you can and cannot do, as a director, to include if you decide to furlough yourself, please contact a member of our corporate team. For further guidance on a director’s obligations by trading through these difficult times: https://solicitorstitle.co.uk/covid-19-directors-and-insolvent-trading
In response to the current difficult times, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, award-winning South West law firm, Solicitors Title, will be launching a Business Support Hub, to provide comprehensive information for businesses during and beyond the current crisis.
Head of our corporate practice Richard James explained the initiative: “Having had many conversations over the last few days and with the rapidly changing situation for businesses, we recognised the need for the Business Support Hub, to help business owners navigate the risks, understand latest developments and to identify opportunities; for example, we have been impressed as we have watched the many businesses up and down the UK rapidly deploy an online offering, as a result of their traditional business model being impacted.”
Some will know that we had a bigger project in the making, along similar lines before the Covid-19 outbreak, as announced at our Solicitors Title’s 21st birthday celebration last year and therefore the Business Support Hub will act as a trial for the much bigger business support package that we have in preparation.
We will announce when the Business Support Hub is available and, of course, the resources and information will be entirely free. In the meantime, please see our guidance to businesses, via our Business Perspective in light of Covid-19 article.
As the Prime Minister has said, we have not known a situation like this in peacetime. Our objectives, like with many other businesses, are to ensure the safely and wellbeing of our staff, to support our clients and to ensure, as much as we can, that any disruption to the availability of our services is minimised. We have therefore considered whether we can deliver services in a more novel way, if the need arises or in particular cases and we are keeping this under review.
Our offices are open and we will aim to ensure minimal disruption to our service levels, but please bear in mind that all businesses are having to manage this fast-moving situation, keeping developments and how they respond to those developments under constant review. However, for our clients, referrers and contacts, we can confirm the following:
- We have full remote working capability and a secure IT infrastructure, meaning that we can continue to operate even if our offices needed to close (at present, all of our offices are open as usual)
- Our compliance team have reviewed critical deadlines and areas of work that cannot be disrupted, if at all possible, to ensure continuity in these respects
- We have considered any risks to our business and are taking steps to mitigate these
- We have deployed updated guidance on hand washing and good hygiene and are taking practical steps to avoid unnecessary contact (for example shaking hands) and this is ongoing
- We have already moved some meetings to alternative methods of communication; for example, phone, video conferencing/Zoom/Skype
This situation may inevitably lead to consideration of advice that businesses and others need or to look at putting various things in place -we will be publishing some outline thought of things to consider, from a business perspective, later on today. For the moment, and as always, please do get in touch with your usual contact at Solicitors Title, to see what we can do to help.
The Partners and staff at Solicitors Title