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COVID-19 Rebuild, Revive and Recover

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As a full service law firm, we are here to advise, support and prepare you in this time of transition. Our sector specific teams can provide focused, practical and expert advice on any COVID related issues and concerns for 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, insolvency and more.

We are here to help.

It is essential that your organisation is prepared and has access to ongoing proactive 360° legal support to help you and your business following the impacts of Coronavirus.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO on 11 March 2020. The pandemic is a serious health concern and the effects are causing ongoing economic disruption. Now that we are starting to come out of yet another lockdown, all sectors are having to deal with the a 'new normal' and how we can safely return to business and adapt around new requirements and measures.

What can we help you with?

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

  • 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.

    If you have any queries on COVID related funding packages which you have obtained or which you are planning to apply for, including how these relate to your existing funding arrangements please do contact us.

    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.

    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.

  • Commercial contracts

    Now that we are returning to a version of ‘business as usual’ we are assisting clients with varying contracts or entering into new contracts to ensure that they can adapt and work differently.
    Our commercial team can assist you with doing business differently whether that be the increased usage of digital solutions or varying contracts to give you the flexibility to ensure that you can succeed in a new business environment.
    It may be that despite lockdown restrictions easing there are still positions where

    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 post-lockdown period depends upon how it is drafted and the specific effect of the pandemic and its ongoing side effects 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.

    It is important to consider not only your current contractual position but also how you can protect your business on an ongoing basis. Force majeure clauses have come under scrutiny since lockdown began and it is crucial that new contracts entered into clearly set out how force majeure clauses apply and operate.
    Our team can assist you in drafting or reviewing future contracts to tighten protections.

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

  • Employment, pensions and immigration

    Our employment lawyers work with your business to devise, implement and manage:

    1. The wind down of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
    2. Annual leave and tricky issues relating to quarantine. For example:
      1. Does the quarantine requirement apply to all employees
      2. Can we ask an employee not to observe quarantine and come into work
      3. Can we furlough an employee who is required to quarantine after travel
      4. Is an employee in post-travel quarantine entitled to statutory sick pay
      5. What should an employee in post-travel quarantine be paid
      6. An employee has a holiday abroad coming up. Can I instruct them not to go
      7. Can we mandate periods of holiday to help smooth the impact of built up holiday accrual during Furlough.
    3. Your redundancy programmes from large scale, multi-jurisdictional programmes to individual redundancies
    4. Restructuring and cultural change, addressing key themes such as, cut, control and cost, e.g changing terms and conditions to implement permanent homeworking/pay/flexible hours
    5. Your obligations under TUPE, when restructuring (including where insolvency is contemplated).

    Redundancies, restructuring and culture change programmes can be complex. We assist with post-restructuring integrations as your business adjusts to find its new normal.

    If matters become contentious our experienced lawyers can manage mediation, other forms of dispute resolution and litigation up to and including Hearings.

    Our redundancy service can advise on:

    • Collective consultation requirements (if they are triggered)
    • Engaging effectively with trade unions, employee forums, and European Works Councils
    • Electing employee representatives
    • Pooling and selection processes
    • Individual consultation requirements
    • Development of redundancy severance proposals, preparing and negotiating settlement agreements
    • If needed we can plan, implement and project manage international redundancy and restructuring programmes, working with our Legalink and Insurance Law Global colleagues.
  • 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 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.

  • Health and safety - Regulatory

    For as long as the threat of infection from COVID-19 remains, businesses are required to balance the need to safeguard employees in the workplace from the risks of potential exposure, with the safety risks presented by new working practices.

    Our national team of specialist regulatory lawyers are working closely with businesses across all sectors and local authorities in understanding the considerable challenges faced by businesses managing disruption and change to working practices.

    We provide practical advice in balancing safety considerations with commercial decisions, to include:-.

    • 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
    • Dealing with HSE spot checks and investigations
    • The requirement to consult with workers regarding health and safety measures and their return to the workplace, and managing concerns raised by employees and trade unions
    • Innovative technology to assist with the key considerations in navigating new working practices to enable a smooth and safe transition back to work. This includes a checklist and prompt tool enabling business to assess the risk and to develop systems and policies to control the risk
    • Review and guidance of risk assessments, policies and safe systems of work to ensure your business is protected in identifying existing and future control measures to prevent or reduce risk
    • Innovative technology that enables you to store documentation and build into a system the necessary alerts to update and review policies in line with updated government and HSE guidance
    • Practical guidance on the continued challenges faced by remote working as many employers continue with high levels of homeworking
    • 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
    • Pragmatic advice on steps your business can take to protect itself where there are concerns in relation to environmental compliance and reporting to regulators in the ever evolving landscape
    • The challenges associated with supporting vulnerable people, including those who lack capacity or have a mental health condition.
  • Insurance | 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.

  • Mergers & Acquisitions

    The COVID-19 pandemic has provided many business owners with the opportunity to reflect on their medium and long-term plans for their business and many wish to consider succession issues, including passing the business to family members, a trade sale or selling the business to the current management team. Our corporate team can provide you guidance on your options in the current market and is well networked with funders and other professional advisers to help support you through the decision making process and to help you deliver the transaction that works for you now and for the long-term.

    The pandemic has not impacted on all businesses in the same way. If you are a business that has come through the last few months in a strong position, you may see an opportunity to grow through acquisition and there may be some distressed businesses that are available for acquisition. We are able to work with clients considering a post-COVID acquisition strategy to design their acquisition process to deliver transactions efficiently and cost-effectively, which may be required in a distressed situation.

    Similarly, if your business has struggled through the last four months, you may want advice on managing an accelerated sale. Working with our restructuring team, our corporate team is able to guide you through an accelerated M&A process to help obtain a soft-landing for your business.

  • 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 email or telephone and where meetings are required they may be arranged using teleconferencing, Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp. 

  • 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 with getting through these extreme times. There have been a raft of government measures introduced to try to help businesses get through this period of economic uncertainty, from forms of funding through Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, Bounce Back Loans, COVID Corporate Financing Facilities and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

    Our team is well versed on the newly enacted Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act 2020 which has offered some temporary relaxations of existing insolvency laws and the introduction of more fundamental restructuring mechanisms to assist businesses in surviving. 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 instability and uncertainty.

  • Property and Construction

    The medium to long term impact on the construction and property industry, as we emerge from lockdown, is not yet fully apparent. The impact of the pandemic on commercial occupiers, developers and investors is fuelled by a general feeling of economic uncertainty across the UK.

    The Government has identified the construction and property industry as a priority, an industry that is seen as a key driver towards economic recovery. Legislative changes have been introduced in an attempt to facilitate this, from new planning reforms through to a new Code of Practice for the Commercial Property sector.

    Our property, planning and construction experts are here to assist you along this difficult road to recovery and beyond. Whether you need advice on new or existing planning permissions and building consents, the terms of commercial leases and issues such as tenant insolvency and dealing with empty properties, or clarity on extensions of time under construction contracts and any loss and expense arising from a delay, you can trust our team to be working with you and supporting your business every step of the way.

Coronavirus insights

Read our latest insights on how you can mitigate the impact or coronavirus on your business.

Read our coronavirus insights

COVID-19 - Our legal insight

In these short podcasts, our legal expert Jacqui Bickerton provides a roundup of the latest trends and market developments on COVID-19.

HMCTS weekly update

In this section we highlight the operational guidance from HMCTS each week to assist in preparation for court attendances and hearings.

General COVID guidance

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