It seems likely that lockdown, or son of lockdown or other impediment to free movement or association may be with us for some time to come.  We are very happy to deal with your legal work in any way that works for you but, just to be clear, if you would like to actually see any of our staff we can usually arrange a one-to-one video link.

We support Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp and Skype and most of us look much better on camera than we do in real life.  If you would like to link to us from the safety and comfort of your own home or office just let us know and we will be pleased to accommodate you.

Stapleton & Son staff are now working from home and some are on furlough.  This means that there will be some delays in our being able to retrieve hard copy items sent to us or to send hard copy items to you although if you have email and a printer or scanner at home for most purposes we can work around these physical constraints.  You can email our staff from their contacts profile, (look at Contacts on our home page), and some of our staff have direct dial numbers you can reach them on, also in their profiles.  Do please call us, but remember we all have home responsibilities too, so please try and make calls to us during our normal office hours only.  Leave us messages out of office hours on our main office telephone number (01780 751226). During normal opening hours, there is a contact number for message-taking and forwarding on our main office phone, and members of staff will, individually, call in to the office premises to make sure we can all see post sent to us and can still generate hard copy letters and documents when needed and get them out to you.

Given the current government instructions we may not be able to arrange physical appointments with our staff for any purpose other than the signing of Wills.  Some of our staff can do consultations by video link, though, using a wide variety of different proprietary video messaging software (Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger, Zoom and the like).

We are all encouraged in our home endeavours:

JDT dogJAB dog

Please keep our home workers busy - there's only so much pampering and walking we can take! 

Covid 19 is about to be a fact of life for our whole country.  The virus appears to now be spreading "in the wild" in the UK and the government has announced, albeit sotto voce, their intention to move on to the "delay" phase of its approach to handling the virus, having fought and lost a rearguard battle over the attempts to "contain" it.

covid 19In plain terms this means that the government's health and science advisers now consider that, in the worst case, 80% of the population will suffer from it, although hopefully for most it will be a brief and not too unpleasant experience. The symptoms are predicted to be no worse than influenza.  For some, in particular states of health, an infection with the virus will be much more problematic and the government has singled out those of age 70 or greater and those with "underlying health conditions" which seems to mean folk who are particularly susceptible to infections or who have existing lung or heart disease or diabetes.

We will be very happy to take additional precautions to protect you, as far as we can, if you need to visit our offices. 

If you think you may be in a vulnerable category then please tell us ahead of your visit and we can arrange to see you in a larger room with more separation between our staff and you.

If you think you may be infected then please also let us know, so we can take steps to protect our staff or to make alternative arrangements to deal with your affairs electronically by telephone or video link so as to avoid you having to travel or come into contact with others.

As the situation with the virus worsens, we anticipate that more of our staff may have to self-isolate, and it may be difficult to maintain a full work force in the office or to answer phone calls at all times. Please do contact us, via the email contact form on this website, and give us details of how we can get in touch with you.  Any of our staff who are able to, will be in regular touch with the office, via electronic means, and we are, as always, keen to do whatever we can to deal with our clients' legal needs. At this difficult time we may need you to help us in helping you. 

If you have not reviewed your Will in some time this may also be a reminder of the importance of ensuring that, if the worst were to come to the worst, at least your affairs will be in order and you will have taken every possible step to ensure your beneficiaries are protected.

Contact Nick Fluck via our contacts link if you would like to make or update a Will.

 

In the current coronavirus emergency the government is taking extraordinary steps to restrict movement (and therefore to reduce the rate at which the virus spreads in the wild).  If you are moving house and have already exchanged contracts this gives you a potentially serious problem.  Under the terms of the contract you will have made legally binding pledges to move out / in (if you are selling or buying respectively) and both if you are both selling and buying.  Your solicitor may also have requested your new mortgage funds, if you are buying with a mortgage, and a redemption statement to be able to pay off any current mortgage on your sale.  All of these figures are usually time critical. The government has now advised that if the property you are planning to move to is not already vacant then you should make every effort to agree, within the chain of transactions that may be affected, that you will all agree to a postponement.

From a legal point of view this could be a nightmare but there is very strong governmental pressure upon all the relevant parties who are involved to facilitate this.

It may be as simple as agreeing to postpone a previously agreed completion date for a certain length of time or you may run the risk that the contractual provisions, which oblige you to vacate the house you are selling, are enforced against you by law (if an open Court can be found!).

If your removal company cannot meet the date they promised, they should agree to rebook without charging you an additional fee - but the terms you accepted when you signed up, may compel you to pay them, if the reason they cannot fulfil your insturctions is due to force majeure.

Most mortgage lenders have agreed that the validity period of any mortgage they have offered to you will be extended for three months if you have exchanged contracts but not been able to complete.

Last minute searches to check the state of a title at the Land Registry cam be quickly and simply re-done by your solicitor to make sure that your purchase is protected.

The underlying position will be a sudden sharp cooling in the housing market and this may affect values of properties in the longer term.  If you find yourself in a difficult position in relation to your house sale or purchase as a result of the lockdown, take advice from your solicitor.  Most firms are running electronically with their staff now working from home and will be pleased to help you if they can. 

The aim, as always, is certainty, to make sure everyone know what is going to happen.

If you can't move, be kind, be patient and stay safe - this too shall pass.

I had the great good fortune to spend a couple of days in meetings in Strasbourg recently. A very beautiful city to visit - compact old, very old. and also very new.  The European Court of Human Rights sits on one of the many waterways through the city - looking, it has to be said, like a badly stacked drum kit.   Look at these pictures for a classically Strasbourg contrast.

IMG 20200210 181120 IMG 20200210 125507

 

The age old waterways - once a very thriving trade route and the Court responsible for moving forward the protection of Human Rights - and before anyone complains about the interference of that Court ask yourself which of your human rights do you not want protected?