TSP Legal https://www.tsplegal.com Thompson Smith and Puxon Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:27:46 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 COVID-19 – Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings https://www.tsplegal.com/covid-19-resources/covid-19-mediation-as-an-alternative-to-court-proceedings/ Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:25:07 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21648 The unusual circumstances in which we currently find ourselves as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has greatly impacted the way that individuals and businesses perform routine activities, restricting the nation’s ability to congregate in commercial and public forums and necessarily increasing reliance on technology as a means of maintaining a semblance of normality. The justice system is no exception to this, as the pandemic creates unprecedented challenges for the judiciary, legal professionals and, of course, litigants involved in civil and commercial disputes. The pandemic has seen the temporary closure of more than twenty per cent of the country’s courts and tribunals and necessitated increased use of video and audio conferencing tools, leaving only a network of priority courts open to the public for essential face-to-face hearings. Despite efforts to ensure that the justice system continues to function as efficiently and as safely as possible during these difficult times, disruption and delays to the delivery of court and tribunal services are inevitable. In the current climate, therefore, businesses are encouraged to consider how mediation can provide a quicker and more cost-effective way to resolve commercial disputes than determination by court or arbitration. Mediation is a flexible, voluntary and confidential form
Read more...

The post COVID-19 – Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
The unusual circumstances in which we currently find ourselves as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has greatly impacted the way that individuals and businesses perform routine activities, restricting the nation’s ability to congregate in commercial and public forums and necessarily increasing reliance on technology as a means of maintaining a semblance of normality. The justice system is no exception to this, as the pandemic creates unprecedented challenges for the judiciary, legal professionals and, of course, litigants involved in civil and commercial disputes.

The pandemic has seen the temporary closure of more than twenty per cent of the country’s courts and tribunals and necessitated increased use of video and audio conferencing tools, leaving only a network of priority courts open to the public for essential face-to-face hearings. Despite efforts to ensure that the justice system continues to function as efficiently and as safely as possible during these difficult times, disruption and delays to the delivery of court and tribunal services are inevitable.

In the current climate, therefore, businesses are encouraged to consider how mediation can provide a quicker and more cost-effective way to resolve commercial disputes than determination by court or arbitration. Mediation is a flexible, voluntary and confidential form of alternative dispute resolution suitable for cases small and large, in which an impartial third party helps those embroiled in a dispute to work towards a negotiated settlement. In contrast to other dispute resolution mechanisms, such as arbitration, it is not the role of a mediator to pass judgment on the merits of a case or to bind the parties with a decision. The mediator facilitates negotiations and ensures the fairness and efficiency of the process, allowing the parties to gain a better understanding of their respective positions and to work together collaboratively with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable compromise.

Some of the benefits of mediation include the following:

there is no requirement for mediations to be carried out in person, which means that they can take place effectively remotely using video conferencing facilities;

  • there is no requirement for mediations to be carried out in person, which means that they can take place effectively remotely using video conferencing facilities
  • Mediation is suitable for the vast majority of cases, from small claims to high value multi-track disputes and appeals, where problems can be resolved by negotiation
  • It allows for more flexibility, creativity and control over settlement options than the court or arbitration processes
  • Mediation is effective in helping parties to overcome communication problems and work through deadlock situations
  • Important or long-term business relationships can be preserved, improved or restored by mediation
  • The process tends to be less expensive than court litigation and can substantially reduce legal and lost-opportunity costs
  • The process is completely flexible and can be tailored to meet the parties’ needs
  • Mediation provides a quicker resolution than court or arbitration processes and can often be arranged within a few days or weeks.

Thompson Smith and Puxon has accredited mediators who have undergone rigorous training and are able to oversee and represent clients at mediations covering a wide range of issues, including commercial and civil disputes, shareholder disputes, contractual disputes, contentious probate, land and boundary disputes and personal injury claims. If you would like to find out more about our mediation services, including how this can work for you during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, please get in touch by telephone on 01206 574431 or by email at info@tsplegal.com

The post COVID-19 – Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
COVID-19 and Litigation https://www.tsplegal.com/covid-19-resources/covid-19-and-litigation/ Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:07:36 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21642 Further to the impact of COVID-19 upon the civil litigation process, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Chancellor has signed the new Practice Direction 51ZA, which follows on from Practice Direction 51Z, which came into effect on 27 March 2020. The new Practice Direction is effective from 2 April 2020 and deals with the extension of time limits during the Coronavirus outbreak. In essence, parties are now at liberty to agree an extension of up to 56 days without formally notifying the Court, rather than the current 28 days for which the Civil Procedure Rules prescribe. The exclusion to this is that no such extension can be agreed should it put any hearing date at risk. Any further extension required in excess of 56 days needs to be agreed by the Court. Bearing in mind the unprecedented situation that litigators and parties now find themselves in, the Practice Direction makes it clear that the Court will take into account the current situation in dealing with applications for an extension of more than 56 days, as well as applications for adjournments and relief from sanctions, with the indication being that such applications will be allowed, rather than dismissed. The Practice
Read more...

The post COVID-19 and Litigation appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Further to the impact of COVID-19 upon the civil litigation process, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Chancellor has signed the new Practice Direction 51ZA, which follows on from Practice Direction 51Z, which came into effect on 27 March 2020. The new Practice Direction is effective from 2 April 2020 and deals with the extension of time limits during the Coronavirus outbreak.

In essence, parties are now at liberty to agree an extension of up to 56 days without formally notifying the Court, rather than the current 28 days for which the Civil Procedure Rules prescribe. The exclusion to this is that no such extension can be agreed should it put any hearing date at risk. Any further extension required in excess of 56 days needs to be agreed by the Court.

Bearing in mind the unprecedented situation that litigators and parties now find themselves in, the Practice Direction makes it clear that the Court will take into account the current situation in dealing with applications for an extension of more than 56 days, as well as applications for adjournments and relief from sanctions, with the indication being that such applications will be allowed, rather than dismissed.

The Practice Direction clarifies that, further to the introduction of Practice Direction 51Y, which deals with video and audio hearings during the Coronavirus outbreak, parties only need to make such application to listen or view a recording of a hearing by request and are not required to make an formal application pursuant to CPR Part 23, saving Court time and the costs of additional fees.

The Practice Directions ceases to have effect on 30 October 2020 and is yet another example of a wave of updates being made to the Civil Procedure Rules to deal with the impact of Coronavirus on litigation. Inevitably, many parties in litigation are going to be facing delays, adjournments and possibly having to deal with applications for relief from sanctions. The most recent Practice Direction is a further indication of the approach that the Court will take to assist litigators and parties as they navigate their way through such unchartered waters.

Should anyone have any questions regarding the impact of the recent Civil Procedure Rules updates and/or the Coronavirus Act 2020 upon any ongoing litigation proceedings, the specialist members of the Dispute Resolution Team are at hand to assist.

The post COVID-19 and Litigation appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
The Coronavirus Act 2020 – Impact for Landlords and Tenants of Residential and Commercial Properties https://www.tsplegal.com/general/the-coronavirus-act-2020-impact-for-landlords-and-tenants-of-residential-and-commercial-properties/ Tue, 07 Apr 2020 09:18:56 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21624 On 19 March 2020, the government’s principal statutory response to the novel COVID-19 outbreak was introduced to Parliament. Having been fast-tracked through the legislature in just four parliamentary sittings, the draft Coronavirus Bill received Royal Assent and took effect in law as the Coronavirus Act (“CVA”) on 25 March 2020. The CVA contains a number of temporary measures intended to amend existing legislation or introduce new statutory powers designed to support workers and the economy, while enabling public bodies to ease the burden on “frontline staff” and better manage the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic within the UK. In addition to providing the main legal basis for the nationwide lockdown and the emergency registration of retired and student healthcare professionals, the CVA introduces a right for employees to take between two and four weeks voluntary unpaid leave to support the NHS and social care sector. There is no right for employers to refuse volunteer leave and those who choose to take such leave will continue to receive the benefit of all their usual terms of employment save for remuneration. Moreover, as part of its effort to support individuals and businesses, the legislation makes statutory sick pay (“SSP”) available for employees
Read more...

The post The Coronavirus Act 2020 – Impact for Landlords and Tenants of Residential and Commercial Properties appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
On 19 March 2020, the government’s principal statutory response to the novel COVID-19 outbreak was introduced to Parliament. Having been fast-tracked through the legislature in just four parliamentary sittings, the draft Coronavirus Bill received Royal Assent and took effect in law as the Coronavirus Act (“CVA”) on 25 March 2020.

The CVA contains a number of temporary measures intended to amend existing legislation or introduce new statutory powers designed to support workers and the economy, while enabling public bodies to ease the burden on “frontline staff” and better manage the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic within the UK.

In addition to providing the main legal basis for the nationwide lockdown and the emergency registration of retired and student healthcare professionals, the CVA introduces a right for employees to take between two and four weeks voluntary unpaid leave to support the NHS and social care sector. There is no right for employers to refuse volunteer leave and those who choose to take such leave will continue to receive the benefit of all their usual terms of employment save for remuneration. Moreover, as part of its effort to support individuals and businesses, the legislation makes statutory sick pay (“SSP”) available for employees from the first day of sickness and will enable HMRC to fund employers’ payment of SSP for coronavirus-related incapacity.

As many people have sought to ‘stock up’ on consumables, canned goods and other essential household items in anticipation of shortages, provision has been included to facilitate the government’s response to food-supply chain disruption. Notably, relevant authorities now have the power to require any person working in, or closely connected with, the food supply chain to comply with voluntary information requests about any actual or potential risk of disruption. Non-compliance can result in the levy of a financial penalty up to 1% of the relevant business’s turnover, subject to substantial increase where payment is not made within 28 days.

The implications of the CVA for property owners and tenants are also far-reaching, with the legislation seeking to address concerns by temporarily suspending commercial landlords’ ability to enforce forfeiture rights and extending the period of notice required for the eviction of tenants in the private sector to three months. For more information about the circumstances under which residential and commercial tenants can be evicted from premises during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, key considerations for landlords and other property guidance, please refer to the following articles:

COVID-19 – Property and Possession

Can Landlords Evict Commercial Tenants Who Are Unable to Pay Their Rent as a Result of COVID-19?

COVID-19 – Issues for Landlords and Tenants of Commercial Property

The CVA is also supported by other legislative measures, such as the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020, which provide for the mandatory closure of certain businesses, shops, retail and leisure premises. For more information about whether you may be required to close your business premises, please click here.

If we can assist you with any questions you may have about your business, commercial or residential tenancy, including the impact of COVID-19, please get in touch by telephone on 01206 574431 or by email at info@tsplegal.com and we will direct your query to the relevant team.

The post The Coronavirus Act 2020 – Impact for Landlords and Tenants of Residential and Commercial Properties appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furlough: 6 April 2020 https://www.tsplegal.com/general/the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-and-furlough-6-april-2020/ Mon, 06 Apr 2020 13:53:20 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21611 Following updated guidance published by HMRC at the weekend, a few grey areas have been clarified, albeit some still remain… What we now know: • Perhaps the most useful clarification so far: employees can be furloughed multiple times ! But each period must be at least three weeks and confirmed in writing to the employee. This allows employers to rotate furloughed staff. • Furlough must be recorded in writing and kept for 5 years • Workers (e.g. cleaners) who were paid via PAYE from 28.2.20 can be furloughed • Employees who were dismissed after 28 February 2020 can be rehired and furloughed. There are a few risks with this: – employers should watch out if this now gives employees two years’ service – it’s possible that HMRC could subsequently decide this is somehow fraudulent – can the employer afford to do this? How will this affect cash flow? • Company directors can be furloughed, there must be a formal adopted resolution, recorded in writing • Furloughed employees (earning 80%) can work for another employer (earning 100%)=180% • Further clarification on rates of pay during furlough. Pay is either the employee’s pay as at 28.02.20; or, if the employee’s pay varies,
Read more...

The post The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furlough: 6 April 2020 appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Following updated guidance published by HMRC at the weekend, a few grey areas have been clarified, albeit some still remain…

What we now know:
• Perhaps the most useful clarification so far: employees can be furloughed multiple times ! But each period must be at least three weeks and confirmed in writing to the employee. This allows employers to rotate furloughed staff.
• Furlough must be recorded in writing and kept for 5 years
• Workers (e.g. cleaners) who were paid via PAYE from 28.2.20 can be furloughed
• Employees who were dismissed after 28 February 2020 can be rehired and furloughed. There are a few risks with this:
– employers should watch out if this now gives employees two years’ service
– it’s possible that HMRC could subsequently decide this is somehow fraudulent
– can the employer afford to do this? How will this affect cash flow?
• Company directors can be furloughed, there must be a formal adopted resolution, recorded in writing
• Furloughed employees (earning 80%) can work for another employer (earning 100%)=180%
• Further clarification on rates of pay during furlough. Pay is either the employee’s pay as at 28.02.20; or, if the employee’s pay varies, the higher of either the pay for the same month in the previous year or the average monthly earnings over the 2019/2020 tax year. ‘Pay’ includes wages, past overtime (presumably only compulsory guaranteed overtime) and contractual commission payments but not discretionary bonuses, tips or benefits in kind such as health insurance etc.
• Workers can be furloughed from multiple jobs

What we still don’t know
• At what rate annual leave should be paid if a furloughed employee takes annual leave during a period of furlough?
• Following on from that, can an employer require a furloughed employee to take annual leave?
• What happens if a furloughed employee becomes sick? Are they paid SSP ?
• What duties can directors carry out?
• What happens to employees TUPE’d after 28.02.20?

For all legal advice please be in touch with your usual contact at Thompson Smith and Puxon, or for advice specifically about the employment of staff and workers, please email or call:

Jolyon Berry at jolyon.berry@tsplegal.com or 07771542740. Jolyon is head of the employment team and a Legal 500 “leading individual”.
Lisa Dixon at lisa.dixon@tsplegal.com or 07712 301328
Sam Welham at sam.welham@tsplegal.com or 01206 217028

The post The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furlough: 6 April 2020 appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Covid -19 Resources https://www.tsplegal.com/general/covid-19-resources/ Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:33:29 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21532 We continue to be available to support you during these challenging times. Please find below our latest posts and articles relating to the Coronavirus and business and personal issues.  Resources for Individuals Family Courts and Covid-19 Separated Parents and Covid-19 Can I Still Make a Will During the Coronavirus Outbreak? Moving House During COVID-19 Outbreak – Government Guidance How Could Covid-19 Affect my Sale and Purchase? Covid-19 and Litigation Covid-19 Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings Resources for Businesses The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furlough: An Update Working with Coronavirus – Update for Employers What to do if you are Experiencing Business Interruption due to the Coronavirus  Personal Guarantee Advice Do I need to Close My Business or Premises? COVID-19 – Company Accounts Filing Extension Covid-19 and Contractual Obligations Changes to Insolvency Law due to the Coronavirus Crisis Covid-19 – Issues for Landlords and Tenants of Commercial Property Covid-19 and Litigation Covid-19 Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or require advice on any matter related to COVID-19 and its effect on you, your family or your business.

The post Covid -19 Resources appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
We continue to be available to support you during these challenging times. Please find below our latest posts and articles relating to the Coronavirus and business and personal issues. 

Resources for Individuals

Family Courts and Covid-19

Separated Parents and Covid-19

Can I Still Make a Will During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

Moving House During COVID-19 Outbreak – Government Guidance

How Could Covid-19 Affect my Sale and Purchase?

Covid-19 and Litigation

Covid-19 Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings

Resources for Businesses

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Furlough: An Update

Working with Coronavirus – Update for Employers

What to do if you are Experiencing Business Interruption due to the Coronavirus 

Personal Guarantee Advice

Do I need to Close My Business or Premises?

COVID-19 – Company Accounts Filing Extension

Covid-19 and Contractual Obligations

Changes to Insolvency Law due to the Coronavirus Crisis

Covid-19 – Issues for Landlords and Tenants of Commercial Property

Covid-19 and Litigation

Covid-19 Mediation as an Alternative to Court Proceedings

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or require advice on any matter related to COVID-19 and its effect on you, your family or your business.

The post Covid -19 Resources appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Can Landlords Evict Commercial Tenants Who Are Unable to Pay Their Rent as a Result of Covid-19? https://www.tsplegal.com/covid-19-resources/can-landlords-evict-commercial-tenants-covid-19/ Fri, 03 Apr 2020 08:38:08 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21507 As noted in our article concerning a tenant’s entitlement to suspend or withhold payments without the landlord’s agreement, a failure to comply with the covenant to pay rents will usually entitle a landlord to peaceably re-enter the property and immediately bring the lease to an end. This is known as ‘forfeiture’. Most commercial leases will allow the tenant a period (commonly 21 days from the due date) within which to pay any outstanding rent before the landlord’s right of re-entry and forfeiture is exercisable. In some cases, this may provide the tenant with sufficient “breathing room” to meet its payment obligations under the lease before an actionable breach occurs. However, businesses more severely affected should rest assured that they will not be unfairly evicted from premises if they are temporarily unable to sustain rent payments. As part of its on-going response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the government has sought to reassure commercial tenants with the passing of emergency legislation. The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“CVA”), which received royal assent on 25 March 2020, brings into force a number of temporary measures designed to address concerns raised by the business community and ease pressure on tenants whose ability to operate, and derive
Read more...

The post Can Landlords Evict Commercial Tenants Who Are Unable to Pay Their Rent as a Result of Covid-19? appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
As noted in our article concerning a tenant’s entitlement to suspend or withhold payments without the landlord’s agreement, a failure to comply with the covenant to pay rents will usually entitle a landlord to peaceably re-enter the property and immediately bring the lease to an end. This is known as ‘forfeiture’. Most commercial leases will allow the tenant a period (commonly 21 days from the due date) within which to pay any outstanding rent before the landlord’s right of re-entry and forfeiture is exercisable. In some cases, this may provide the tenant with sufficient “breathing room” to meet its payment obligations under the lease before an actionable breach occurs. However, businesses more severely affected should rest assured that they will not be unfairly evicted from premises if they are temporarily unable to sustain rent payments.

As part of its on-going response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the government has sought to reassure commercial tenants with the passing of emergency legislation. The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“CVA”), which received royal assent on 25 March 2020, brings into force a number of temporary measures designed to address concerns raised by the business community and ease pressure on tenants whose ability to operate, and derive income, from commercial premises has been halted. These measures include making it illegal for landlords to take action to enforce rights of re-entry and forfeiture under businesses tenancies for non-payment of rent for a period of three months, effective between 26 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. This period may be extended further regulations. For the purposes of the CVA, rent includes insurance contributions, service charges and any other sum that the tenant is required to pay under a commercial lease.

In order to preserve landlords’ positions, and help limit the scope for abuse, the CVA additionally provides that no conduct by a landlord (other than express waiver in writing) will result in the loss of a right of re-entry or forfeiture for non-payment of rent while the restrictions remain in force. As a result, tenants should be alive to the fact that these provisions merely suspend a landlord’s ability to re-enter the property and forfeit the lease for non-payment of rent (initially) until 30 June 2020; they do not cause him to lose those rights or prevent him from exercising them after that date unless the suspension period is extended as described above. Equally, tenants should bear in mind that the CVA does not release them from the obligation to pay rent and that interest will nevertheless accrue on late payments.

As a result, tenants should be open and honest with landlords about their financial situations, and engage with them constructively to agree mutually acceptable interim arrangements in order to avoid the risk of “backed-up” claims or actions for re-entry after expiry of the suspension period. For more information about rent holidays and concessions, please click here. Where a rent holiday or other temporary concession would reduce the level of rent income received by the landlord to an unacceptable level, it may be possible for the landlord to draw on the tenant’s rent deposit (if any) to mitigate cash-flow problems caused by business closures, but an extension to the period within which the tenant must top-up the deposit following withdrawal may be required. In any case, the terms of the lease and any rent deposit deed should be carefully reviewed before action is taken.

Tenants should also be alive to fact that the CVA is primarily concerned to protect tenants from eviction for non-payment of rent; it doesn’t expressly prevent a landlord from enforcing its right to re-enter the property where the right to do so arises as a result of a breach of other covenants, such as the obligation to comply with laws or to keep the property in good repair and condition.

However, although landlords have retained the right for these categories of breach at present, it is quite possible that the courts will take a dim view of any attempt to enforce a right of re-entry in the coming months – particularly if the motivation for action is to take advantage of virus epidemic. If landlords intend to exercise a right of re-entry for a breach of covenants while the statutory suspension period continues, care should be taken to observe any procedural restrictions set out in the lease and all notice requirements.

In most cases, a landlord will not be able to enforce a right of re-entry for breach of covenant (other than non-payment of rent) unless and until it has served a statutory notice (known as a section 146 notice) on the tenant specifying the nature of the breach and, where possible, requiring the tenant to remedy the same within a reasonable period of time. Invariably, what is reasonable will depend on the facts of each case but landlords will need to consider the nature of the breach and the amount of time realistically required either to remedy that breach or, where this is not possible, for the tenant to vacate the premises. As tenants may face significant practical difficulties in, for example, arranging for repairs to be carried out during the height of the epidemic, landlords could find themselves at risk of a claim for wrongful forfeiture if they fail to allow tenants additional time.

Due to the on-going impact of Covid-19 and the difficulty landlords might have in finding replacement tenants during this period of uncertainty, we would encourage landlords whose tenants may have breached covenants to discuss and consider the viability of other solutions (where feasible) before taking steps to re-enter the property and forfeit the lease.

If we can assist with any questions you may have, please contact the TSP Commercial Property team on 01206 574431 or by e-mail at info@tsplegal.com.

This note is for general information and guidance and is not legal advice.

The post Can Landlords Evict Commercial Tenants Who Are Unable to Pay Their Rent as a Result of Covid-19? appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Working with Coronavirus – Update for Employers – 1 April 2020 https://www.tsplegal.com/general/working-with-coronavirus-employers/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 14:32:00 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21181 The TSP Employment Law team answer the questions that many employers may have as they adapt to the evolving Coronavirus situation. Who should be at work ? Key workers, for example NHS staff and those working in health services, teachers, refuse workers, HGV drivers and those working in food/medical supplies manufacture. These will be workers who cannot work from home i.e. for those for whom working from home (WFH) is impossible, rather than not as efficient Who should not be at work ? Those who can WFH. It may be that they are not as efficient but if work can be done from home, one should not go to work Those who are ill, self isolating, living with someone who is ill or who are “high risk” should not go to work.  Up to date advice can be found here If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan. Click here for more information. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the new concept of “Furlough” Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those
Read more...

The post Working with Coronavirus – Update for Employers – 1 April 2020 appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
The TSP Employment Law team answer the questions that many employers may have as they adapt to the evolving Coronavirus situation.

Who should be at work ?

  • Key workers, for example NHS staff and those working in health services, teachers, refuse workers, HGV drivers and those working in food/medical supplies manufacture. These will be workers who cannot work from home i.e. for those for whom working from home (WFH) is impossible, rather than not as efficient

Who should not be at work ?

  • Those who can WFH. It may be that they are not as efficient but if work can be done from home, one should not go to work
  • Those who are ill, self isolating, living with someone who is ill or who are “high risk” should not go to work.  Up to date advice can be found here

If your business needs short term cash flow support, you may be eligible for a Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan. Click here for more information.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the new concept of “Furlough”

  • Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Eligible employers will be those who had set up a payroll before 28 February 2020 and with a UK bank account. The scheme covers full-time, part-time, agency and zero/flexible hours employees
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, plus NI contributions and pension contributions. Pay will be based on the employee’s gross pay as at 28 February 2020
  • The scheme will also cover employees who were made redundant after 28 February 2020 if they have been re-hired by their employer
  • Employers will need to designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ for a minimum period of three weeks and notify your employees of this change in writing. Employers will be able to submit information to HMRC about furloughed employees and their earnings through a new online portal which is expected to be live by the end of April
  • Employees will be able to carry forward up to 4 weeks’ annual leave if they were unable to take it due to Corona virus. The rolled over leave will need to be taken within two years from when it was due

Self-employed workers

  • Self-employed workers will be able to claim a grant to cover up to 80% of their trading profit for 3 months. The grants are to be issued in June
  • Self-employed workers who earned income during the 2019/2020 tax year will be eligible. Those who are not eligible should explore Universal Credit
  • HMRC will contact eligible claimants directly, there will be no portal to claim through

For all legal advice please be in touch with your usual contact at Thompson Smith and Puxon, or for advice specifically about the employment of staff and workers, please email or call:

The post Working with Coronavirus – Update for Employers – 1 April 2020 appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Changes to Insolvency Law due to the Coronavirus Crisis https://www.tsplegal.com/covid-19-resources/changes-to-insolvency-law-due-to-the-coronavirus-crisis/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 10:24:49 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21489 The Government, during their weekend briefing on 28 March 2020, confirmed they would be relaxing the rules on wrongful trading for directors and making other changes to insolvency law to enable companies to continue trading in the current climate. Whilst the detail is scant, we do know that the Government plans to allow directors to continue trading and to incur new credit (including through their Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, please see our article here for further details) where, in normal circumstances, such actions would mean that directors could be held personally liable for any losses suffered by creditors caused by those directors’ actions.  This relaxation of s214 Insolvency Act 2016 will apply retrospectively to 1 March 2020 and will last for three months. In addition, the Government announced that changes to insolvency legislation previously floated in August 2018 will be brought into law “at the earliest opportunity”.  This new legislation will add a moratorium for companies to give them an opportunity to revive or restructure their business without the worry of creditors enforcing their debts. This has echoes of the US Chapter 11 process whereby the company can continue to trade and supply chains are protected and compensated throughout. 
Read more...

The post Changes to Insolvency Law due to the Coronavirus Crisis appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
The Government, during their weekend briefing on 28 March 2020, confirmed they would be relaxing the rules on wrongful trading for directors and making other changes to insolvency law to enable companies to continue trading in the current climate.

Whilst the detail is scant, we do know that the Government plans to allow directors to continue trading and to incur new credit (including through their Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, please see our article here for further details) where, in normal circumstances, such actions would mean that directors could be held personally liable for any losses suffered by creditors caused by those directors’ actions.  This relaxation of s214 Insolvency Act 2016 will apply retrospectively to 1 March 2020 and will last for three months.

In addition, the Government announced that changes to insolvency legislation previously floated in August 2018 will be brought into law “at the earliest opportunity”.  This new legislation will add a moratorium for companies to give them an opportunity to revive or restructure their business without the worry of creditors enforcing their debts. This has echoes of the US Chapter 11 process whereby the company can continue to trade and supply chains are protected and compensated throughout. 

The steps taken by the Government have been broadly welcomed. The British Chambers of Commerce have appreciated the support stating that it was important that companies which were financially viable before this crisis should be supported through it so that they will continue to exist on the other side. However R3 have warned that a blanket suspension of wrongful trading rules could be open to abuse. It should be noted that other Insolvency Act provisions such as fraudulent trading, misfeasance and transactions defrauding creditors remain in place.

The new moratorium rules and the potential for restructuring through a time of insolvency or near insolvency are expected in the coming weeks; but the Government clearly hopes that these changes, along with the new lines of credit and the deferral of VAT payments, and the extensive measures relating to employees and landlord and tenant arrangements, will be sufficient to give as many UK based businesses as possible a fighting chance of survival.

Should you have any queries, or would like advice on the changes to insolvency law, please contact Corporate and Commercial Solicitor Nicola Rout by telephone on 01206 217031 or by email at nicola.rout@tsplegal.com.

The post Changes to Insolvency Law due to the Coronavirus Crisis appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Covid-19 – Property and Possession https://www.tsplegal.com/covid-19-resources/covid-19-property-and-possession/ Wed, 01 Apr 2020 08:40:23 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21458 We are in unprecedented times given the COVID-19 pandemic and the Court and Court system has had to adapt accordingly in order to deal with the balancing of both landlords’ and tenants’ rights. As such, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) came into force on 25 March 2020 and includes a number of measures to protect both landlords and tenants who have been affected by Covid-19. Current Position Section 81 of the Act makes provision for new notice periods in relation to residential properties subject to residential tenancies (not licences) and cross-references the reader to Schedule 29 of the Act. Schedule 29 paragraph 7 sets out that that any notices given during the relevant period have to provide for 3 months’ notice to the recipient. Schedule 29 paragraph 1 defines the relevant period as:- Beginning with the day after the day on which the Act has passed, and; Ending with 30 September 2020. In essence, this means that any notice served between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 has to comply with the notice requirements. This only applies in respect of new notices that are issued within the relevant period. New standard notices to take into account these changes
Read more...

The post Covid-19 – Property and Possession appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
We are in unprecedented times given the COVID-19 pandemic and the Court and Court system has had to adapt accordingly in order to deal with the balancing of both landlords’ and tenants’ rights.

As such, the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) came into force on 25 March 2020 and includes a number of measures to protect both landlords and tenants who have been affected by Covid-19.

Current Position

Section 81 of the Act makes provision for new notice periods in relation to residential properties subject to residential tenancies (not licences) and cross-references the reader to Schedule 29 of the Act.

Schedule 29 paragraph 7 sets out that that any notices given during the relevant period have to provide for 3 months’ notice to the recipient.

Schedule 29 paragraph 1 defines the relevant period as:-

  1. Beginning with the day after the day on which the Act has passed, and;
  2. Ending with 30 September 2020.

In essence, this means that any notice served between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 has to comply with the notice requirements. This only applies in respect of new notices that are issued within the relevant period.

New standard notices to take into account these changes have been drafted and, to ensure that landlords are serving notice in the prescribed form, should be used in all cases up to 30 September 2020 until further guidance is issued by the Government.

Court Practice

As a result of the Act coming into force, the Court responded with the introduction of the new Practice Direction 51(Z) which represented the 117th Practice Direction update to the Civil Procedural Rules. In summary, it implements what was included within the 2020 and is effective from 27 March 2020. The main changes are listed as follows:-

  1. All proceedings for possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an Order for Possession by a Warrant or Writ of Possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from 27 March 2020;
  2. Claims for injunctive relief are not subject to the stay;
  3. The Practice Direction ceases to have effect on 30 October 2020, although it can be extended if necessary.

Landlords

Many landlords rely on rental income as a contingent to pay their own buy to let mortgages. As a balancing exercise in anticipation of the effect on landlords in not receiving rental income, the Act provides for landlords to benefit from a three month mortgage holiday. Any landlords facing difficulties with paying their own mortgage should therefore immediately contact their mortgage lender in order to make arrangements for this holiday to commence.

It is also encouraged that parties liaise with each other to see if possession can be avoided, such as through repayment plans for any arrears that accrue. Inevitably, there will be an administrative backlog within the Court which, upon confirmation that possession hearings can be listed again will also be dealing with the re-listing all of the other civil and family matters that have been adjourned and postponed during the relevant period. As such, landlords can potentially mitigate their losses by negotiating with their tenants.

Older Notices

Notices issued prior to the relevant period remain valid for the purposes of issuing future possession proceedings to recover possession of a property. However, it has been determined that such proceedings cannot be issued until the end of June 2020 at the earliest and, subject to the current situation as it develops, provision has been made for this to be extended as is necessary in order to assist with the curtailing of the outbreak.

Future

The Dispute Resolution team will continue to monitor the position so that our clients can be provided with the most up to date information. In the meantime, both landlords and tenants remain liable for their obligations under the tenancy agreement. The Act does not permit tenants to stop paying their rent and does not permit landlords to disregard repairing obligations, the latter of which should be conducted following the Government guidance on social distancing to protect the health and safety of occupants, landlords and contractors.

As such, whilst we may be unable to progress possession proceedings at this point, this does not mean that the position needs to stagnate. The Dispute Resolution team is still able to answer any questions, prepare compliant notices in accordance with the Act provisions and assist with the negotiation and formal drafting of repayment agreements between parties.

If we can assist with any questions you may have, please contact the TSP Dispute Resolution team on 01206 574431 or by e-mail at info@tsplegal.com.

The post Covid-19 – Property and Possession appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
Family Courts and Covid-19 https://www.tsplegal.com/covid-19-resources/family-courts-and-covid-19/ Tue, 31 Mar 2020 13:18:40 +0000 https://www.tsplegal.com/?p=21444 For a number of years users of the Family Court have had to come to terms with the fact that court proceedings can take many months to conclude. This situation will undoubtedly worsen as a result of the current situation. Inevitably a number of judges and court staff will have to self isolate so court paperwork is likely to take longer to process and court hearings longer to arrange. Guidance issued by the President of the Family Division makes clear that the cases in which it will be felt appropriate for court hearings to take place in a court room with judges, court staff, the parties and their legal representatives all present in the same court room will be few and far between. A lot of hearings are going to be adjourned until a later date. Some may proceed on a remote basis where all concerned have access to the appropriate technology. It is inevitable that for some time to come the processing of court paperwork and the arranging of court hearings are going to be significantly delayed. Please be patient with the courts at this very difficult time. Family solicitors should always try their best to help their clients
Read more...

The post Family Courts and Covid-19 appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>
For a number of years users of the Family Court have had to come to terms with the fact that court proceedings can take many months to conclude. This situation will undoubtedly worsen as a result of the current situation. Inevitably a number of judges and court staff will have to self isolate so court paperwork is likely to take longer to process and court hearings longer to arrange.

Guidance issued by the President of the Family Division makes clear that the cases in which it will be felt appropriate for court hearings to take place in a court room with judges, court staff, the parties and their legal representatives all present in the same court room will be few and far between. A lot of hearings are going to be adjourned until a later date. Some may proceed on a remote basis where all concerned have access to the appropriate technology.

It is inevitable that for some time to come the processing of court paperwork and the arranging of court hearings are going to be significantly delayed. Please be patient with the courts at this very difficult time. Family solicitors should always try their best to help their clients to find a solution which requires the minimum involvement of the court. That objective has never been more important than it is now.

If we can assist with any questions you may have, please contact the TSP Family and Divorce team on 01206 574431 or by e-mail at info@tsplegal.com.

The post Family Courts and Covid-19 appeared first on TSP Legal.

]]>