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The implications of Coronavirus How we can help you plan, prepare and protect your organisation in light of COVID-19

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As a full service law firm, we are here to advise and support you through this difficult time. Our sector specific teams can give focused and practical advice upon the effect of Coronavirus and the concerns surrounding it upon organisations and their employees, clients and service providers. Our specialists can provide support with contractual and supply chain advice, HR issues, event cancellations, insurance claims, and insolvency.

We are ready to help.

It is essential that your organisation is prepared and has access to ongoing proactive legal support to help to ease the impacts of the virus.

The spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate the news, and was declared a pandemic by the WHO on 11 March 2020. It is not only a serious health concern but is also causing ongoing economic disruption. The whole situation is very fluid and changes daily with the Government’s policies changing on a regular basis. The effect will be felt by both large industries as reflected by the stock market crashes around the world, small businesses, and individuals. The education sector will also be affected by closures, and public services, in particular the health sector, will struggle to cope with increasing demands.

What can we help you with?

We can assist you with all Coronavirus issues and queries including:

  • CARES | Coronavirus Advice, Response & Emergency Support

    At this time of major disruption globally, we believe it is more important than ever for us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our clients. We have therefore developed CARES, an advice, response and emergency support service which guarantees rapid access to expertise in respect of critical business issues that are currently overwhelming many industries due to the pandemic, in particular:

    • Virus, Force majeure and Frustration
    • Deliberate/Voluntary closure or suspension of trading premises/services
    • Employment practices liability – when and in what circumstances is it reasonable to furlough staff
    • Contractual liability
    • Reputational harm
    • Directors & Officers obligations, diminished profits and company collapse
    • Fraudulent claims
    • Social engineering
    • Business Interruption, including denial of access and non-physical causes
    • Confiscation, nationalisation or requisition of property under order of government or public or local authority
    • Employer’s obligations and liabilities
    • USA and Canada exclusions
    • Newly emerging and interdependent business risk and processes
    • Trading losses
    • Laws of fair presentation
    • Related entities and inter-group liabilities
    • Loss or liability arising directly or indirectly due to insolvency or bankruptcy
    • Availability of adequate PPE/protection sanitisation and liability to employees for injury caused in execution of duties
    • Officials and reckless ultra vires acts.

    Whether it’s strategic advice at board level; help with operational or commercial challenges or assistance with insurance issues, our national team of experienced lawyers stands ready to help with the speed, empathy and clarity required in a crisis.

    Priority & Complex advice team

    As business owners ourselves, we appreciate that problems often require a multi-disciplinary solution. Blended expertise, however, often takes time to coordinate and even longer to come up with an answer. We have therefore formed a crash-team of experts from across our legal specialisms, who are dedicated to prioritising advice on complex and time-sensitive strategic, operational and commercial issues specifically arising from COVID-19. Whatever the nature of your business problem, access to the team is simple and just one click away.

    Virtual secondment

    Furthermore, if the challenges of home-working for your staff and the demands on your capacity require more permanent support over the coming weeks, we are also able to offer virtual secondments and delegated authority solutions to help absorb surges in demand.

    Let us care for you. Send us an enquiry to set up a call to discuss your issue with our Priority & Complex advice team or how we can assist with virtual secondment by filling in our booking below.

  • Banking and Finance

    Our national banking and finance team can advise on the terms of finance documents and issues including breach of financial covenants and difficulties adhering to repayment profiles.

    Many commercial lenders including banks, local Government entities and fund managers have standard terms and conditions that apply to funding products they offer to both individuals and corporate entities. The terms and conditions often include clauses known as ‘Material Adverse Effect’ and ‘Potential Event of Default’ which operate to enable the lender to enforce its security if an event occurs which would or could have an adverse effect on the borrower’s ability to repay a loan.

    For more information of if, as a result of the virus you have concerns in relation to your existing debt facilities or require specific advice on loan documentation fill in our form below. 

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  • Commercial Contracts

    We can review your contracts to advise what steps to take should one or both parties be unable to comply with obligations due to Coronavirus.

    English common law provides few remedies in the event that a business, due to circumstances outside its control, is unable to perform its obligations under a contract. Force majeure clauses are often drafted into contracts to include specific obligations and remedies. Whether this clause will be enforceable in the context of a pandemic depends upon how it is drafted and the specific effect of the pandemic upon the contract. We have a specialist team of commercial lawyers who can review your commercial contracts and advise you on force majeure claims received from counter parties, your ability to claim force majeure and the process you must adhere to in doing so.

    Our team can also advise on the applicability of the doctrine of ‘frustration’ to issues in fulfilling commercial contracts. Frustration may apply if, after the formation of the contract, a serious event occurs beyond the control of the parties which renders it impossible (physically or commercially) to fulfil the contract or transforms the obligations of a party into radically different obligations.

    It is important to consider not only your current contractual position but also how you can protect your business in the future. Our team can assist you in drafting or reviewing future contracts to tighten your business’ protection. 

    For organisations with multiple contracts to be reviewed we can use artificial intelligence to analyse all your contracts to immediately identify force majeure clauses and then undertake a comparative analysis. 

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  • Employment, pensions and immigration

    Current advice is that all individuals with flu-like symptoms should stay at home for seven days. As the number of those self-isolating and falling ill increases, our team can offer HR advice on how to deal with staff absences, sick pay, health and safety obligations and staff guidance.

    If staff are unwell due to the virus and subsequently are absent from work, normal sick pay policies and procedures will apply. If employees are in self-isolation in accordance with Government guidance for employers and Acas guidance then they should be paid sick pay. If you enforce a ‘stay at home’ policy in order to prevent staff contracting the virus and staff are not supplied with adequate equipment to undertake work at home, employees may be entitled to full pay. Our team can review contracts of employment and advise both employers and employees of their rights and obligations under such contracts and how such rights and obligations may be affected by the virus.

    Some key issues to consider are absence reporting, modifications of attendance management policies, pay, quarantine and GDPR, caring responsibilities, homeworking, changing hours/roles and lay-off, redundancy, racial harassment, vulnerable employees, health & safety and contractors on site.

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  • Healthcare

    Our extensive team of health care legal experts can help you through the increasing difficulties Coronavirus is presenting to all parts of the healthcare sector, which is being affected on a daily basis.

    Everyone in the health care sector is likely to be affected by the Coronavirus in one way or another.  We have vast experience in advising providers of a health and social care services as well as service commissioners.  There is likely to be an unprecedented demand on service delivery in the weeks and months ahead. Whether you commission services or offer or facilitate care from a social, community or residential setting, whether you are a GP in private practice, an NHS Trust or other provider  or the owner of a care home, the impact of Coronavirus is likely to be significant. Our dedicated team of specialists can advise on governance, contractual obligations,  regulatory matters, premises requirements and workforce related problems.

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  • Insurance

    We recognise that insurers and their policyholders face an unprecedented challenge in the face of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Notifications to policies have spiked in the last month and are likely to follow a high trend in the days, weeks and months ahead as businesses seek help to mitigate the financial and reputational impacts which the virus is having.

    Our national team of experienced insurance lawyers is on hand to assist with triaging notifications, coverage advice and claims resolution with the speed, empathy and clarity required in a crisis. As a business which enabled all our lawyers to be flexible and agile workers several years ago, we are ideally placed to provide your business, its people and customers with the necessary support during this period of global disruption.

    We have therefore developed CARES, an advice, response and emergency support service which guarantees rapid access to expertise in respect of critical business issues that are currently overwhelming many industries due to the pandemic, in particular:

    • Virus, Force majeure and Frustration

    • Employment practices liability – when and in what circumstances is it reasonable to furlough staff

    • Reputational harm

    • Fraudulent claims

    • Social engineering

    • Confiscation, nationalisation or requisition of property under order of government or public or local authority

    • USA and Canada exclusions

    • Trading losses

    • Related entities and inter-group liabilities

    • Availability of adequate PPE/protection/sanitisation and liability to employees for injury caused in execution of duties

    • Deliberate/Voluntary closure or suspension of trading premises/services

    • Contractual liability

    • Directors & Officers obligations, diminished profits and company collapse

    • Business Interruption, including denial of access and non-physical causes

    • Employer’s obligations and liabilities

    • Newly emerging and interdependent business risks and processes

    • Laws of fair presentation

    • Loss or liability arising directly or indirectly due to insolvency or bankruptcy

    • Officials and reckless ultra vires acts.

    Whether it’s strategic advice at board level; help with operational challenges around employment or commercial contracts; or assistance with triaging notifications, coverage advice or claims resolution, our national team of experienced lawyers stands ready to help with the speed, empathy and clarity required in a crisis.

    Priority & Complex advice team 

    As business owners ourselves, we appreciate that problems often require a multi-disciplinary solution. Blended expertise, however, often takes time to coordinate and even longer to come up with an answer. We have therefore formed a crash-team of experts from across our legal specialisms, who are dedicated to prioritising advice on complex and time-sensitive strategic, operational and commercial issues specifically arising from COVID-19. Whatever the nature of your business problem, access to the team is simple and just one click away

    Virtual clinic

    CARES also offers a virtual clinic (which operates daily) into which our insurance clients can book for a consultation with one of our legal experts on any Claims or Coverage issue. Each appointment lasts 30 minutes. We are happy to accept single or double bookings or for clients to block book appointments which they can then allocate to their staff as required, giving them complete peace of mind. All appointments are free of charge, although to ensure fair usage the maximum amount of time for each issue/matter referred to the clinic which we will provide for free is one hour.

    Virtual secondment

    Furthermore, if the challenges of home-working for your staff and the demands on your capacity require more permanent support over the coming weeks than even our clinic provides, we are also able to offer virtual secondments and delegated authority solutions to help absorb surges in demand.

    Let us care for you and your policyholders. Send us an enquiry, to speak to our Priority & Complex advice team, book into a virtual clinic or to discuss a virtual secondment by filling the form below.

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  • Private Client

    We have a national team of private client lawyers who can advise on personal legal matters in terms of putting your affairs in order and making sure that your plans are clear, up to date and tax efficient.

    For those requiring family law advice we are facing an unprecedented and constantly evolving situation. The national and worldwide response to the Coronavirus inevitably impacts on personal relationships and the advice required. We are a  large national team with  the technological support to continue to advise our clients and progress matters for them throughout this uncertain period, however long it may last. Our family law experts  are well placed to keep abreast of developments and to guide you through how best to deal with the effect of those on your personal circumstances.

    You can contact us via a host of different options which can be adapted to the particular requirements of your circumstances and allow for social distancing.

    Please contact us via e mail or telephone and where meetings are required they may be arranged using teleconferencing, Skype, Zoom or What’s App.  

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  • Property issues

    Whilst banks have announced payment holidays of up to three months for mortgage-holders affected financially by Coronavirus, landlords of commercial properties will suffer if their tenants cannot meet rental payments, and some may not be in a position to offer ‘rental holidays’.  

    Where such concessions are requested by tenants and accepted by landlords - as they often were during the 2008-09 financial crisis - they ought to be properly documented, to ensure that they are legally binding but can be withdrawn once the crisis has passed.

    Our specialist property litigation team can advise upon the terms of leases and issues such as tenant insolvency and dealing with empty properties.

    We can also advise you upon issues such as business rates relief and delays to property developments. 

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  • Health and safety - Regulatory

    Covid-19 places unprecedented challenges to businesses of every size in terms of their people and operations. 

    Our national team of specialist regulatory lawyers are on hand to give you practical guidance on every aspect that impacts your business, and it’s people including:

    • The need to carry out a specific Risk Assessment around Covid-19
    • What are considered to be ‘reasonable steps’ in an employers’ duty to protect its employees
    • The challenges faced by remote working
    • Advice on RIDDOR requirements in respect of Covid-19, a notifiable disease to Public Health England
    • Advice on Data Protection practices that will enable your business to respond to the need to share information quickly, and adapt to the changing ways in which your employees are working 
    • Challenges faced by the absence of key staff with specific knowledge in relation to processes and systems that mitigate the effects of a business’s environmental impact
    • Pragmatic advice on steps your business can take to protect itself where there are concerns in relation to environmental compliance and reporting to regulators during what is going to be a very difficult period
    • The challenges associated with supporting vulnerable people, including those who lack capacity or have a mental health condition.

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  • Restructuring, Recoveries & Insolvency

    Our team is experienced in advising on all forms of corporate distress, including soft debt turnaround solutions, debt recovery and formal insolvency proceedings.

    If, as result of the virus, you are experiencing supply, credit, bad debt, general trade difficulties or simply have concerns around what you should be doing to fulfil your director’s duties, our specialist Restructuring & Insolvency team are able to advise you on various options to assist you and your business get through these extreme times. There have been a raft of government measures introduced to try help businesses get through this period of economic uncertainty, from forms of funding through CBIL, CCFF and furlough government guarantee to certain relaxations of existing insolvency laws. At the same time, many businesses may consider themselves to be insolvent and unable to pay their current liabilities.  As such, it is now more important than ever that all boards are properly advised as to what they should be doing so as to ensure they comply with corporate governance and avoid suffering any form of personal liability as a consequence of their actions over this period of economic stagnation.

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For advice from one of our experts, please fill in the form below, providing as much detail as you can.

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What can we help you with?

How we can help.

We have put together a cross-specialism key team to lead our Coronavirus advice. For assistance with any issues please contact us via email or fill in our enquiry form below.

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