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Coronavirus Advice

Coronavirus Advice Update – 24th March 2020 This is an ever changing situation with updates occurring on a daily basis. Please get in touch as soon as possible with any questions and before making any decisions. These are currently the main points to consider.

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Temporary Office Closures

In keeping with recent government instructions the offices of Poole Alcock are now temporarily closed to the public. We continue to offer a virtual service to all of our clients however, and we have invested in IT and telephony systems which allow us to work remotely.

We can assure all of our clients that they will not be left behind as a result of current restrictions on movement and they will continue to receive the excellent service that they expect from Poole Alcock, albeit at a distance!

Our teams have access to video conferencing technology to allow for virtual meetings to take place and we will continue to take all telephone enquiries and take on new work throughout this time.

We will continually review the need to keep our offices closed in line with government instruction and our responsibility to the wider community.

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We regret that we cannot accept postal service of any documents whilst our offices are closed. Please arrange to serve any documents by email.

May we take this opportunity to thank all of our clients for their understanding and wish you good health and resilience through these trying times.

Existing Clients:

Email us at: nantwich@poolealcock.co.uk
Call us on: 01270 625478

New Enquiries:

Email us at: newenquiries@poolealcock.co.uk
Call us on: 01270 613939

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Coronavirus Frauds

In recent days we have seen many examples of how the current circumstances bring out the

best in people, from within our firm and throughout the wider public. Unfortunately though there are those who seek to capitalise on the uncertainty and fear surrounding the outbreak of Covid-19.  Cyber criminals in particular have been extremely activ

e and there has been a significant increase in fraudulent “phishing” emails being sent to people. A “phishing” email is where a fra

udster tries to ‘hook’ a potential victim by pretending to be someone else in order to get the victim to send them money.

We have received the following guidance from Cheshire Police and we would encourage all of our clients to read it carefully.

Here are some examples of phishing emails that have been doing the rounds.

Employment - School Closures

We are truly living in unprecedented times. The Government has just announced that from Friday 20th March 2020 schools will close until further notice.

The impact upon the UK workforce will be substantial.  The Prime Minister indicated that support will be provided for the workforce but this has not yet been outlined.  Provisions are being put in place for schools  to remain open for the children of front line workers.

As it currently stands employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of time off to look after children.  This has historically been used in circumstances in which employees need to take unexpected and generally short term leave.  The current position is regrettably not going to be short term.

Some workers may be able to work at home but this does not apply to all job sectors.  It is also worthwhile noting that the ability to effectively work from home will be greatly hampered by having caring responsibilities for children during the day.  Up until now the majority of home workers have been able to work without also having to look after children.

With employees facing the financial hardship of unpaid leave; there is a significant risk that children could be left with grandparents who are largely an at risk group.

Looking at the situation practically, there needs to be clear and open communication between staff and employers.   Consideration should be given  to employees taking annual leave early and possible alterations to working hours.

More information will be provided when the Government makes further statements.

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Employment

  • Self Isolation and Pay

    If an Employee has symptoms of Coronavirus they must self-isolate for fourteen days.

    If the Employee is able to work from home then they will be entitled to normal pay.

    If the Employee is unable to work during self-isolation they are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from the first day of absence. If they are on a zero hour/casual contract SSP is only payable if they earn an average of £118 per week over an 8 week period.

    If an Employee does not have the symptoms of Coronavirus and chooses to be off then they are not entitled to pay.

    If a company has less than 250 members of staff; SSP can be claimed back from the government for a 14 day period.

    If you suspect a member of staff has the virus then you should ask them to leave the premises and advise them to self-isolate. If they insist that they are fit for work please get in touch so that we can advise.

    If the country goes into lockdown then we can expect further updates on pay.

  • Care for Dependents

    With schools potentially closing in the coming weeks, many members of staff will have to look after children.

    It may be feasible for the member of staff to work from home if they are able to do so.

    If they are unable to work from home (and are not sick) consider unpaid leave

  • Temporary Lay Off

    Whether this is possible depends upon what is written in the contract.

    If not permitted in the contract then consideration should be given to agreeing a variation in working hours.

Criminal Defence – Postponement of Trials

Although it is business as usual at the moment with the Court, as of the 18th March the decision has been made – in the short term – to adjourn Crown Court trials that were due to start before the end of April and that were listed for more than 3 days. His comments are as follows;

Trials in the Crown Court present a particular problem in a fast-developing situation because they require the presence in Court of many different participants including the judge, the jury, a defendant, lawyers and witnesses as well as staff. Given the risk of a trial not being able to complete, I have decided that no new trial should start in the Crown Court unless it is expected to last for three days or less. All cases expected to last longer than three days listed to start before the end of April 2020 will be adjourned. These cases will be kept under review and the position regarding short trials will be revisited as circumstances develop and in any event next week.

This decision from the release from the Lord Chief Justice did not mention whether this would affect those defendants that’s are on remand and the Custody time limits were nearly up.

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The Lord Chancellor however did state the following;

“We will also make arrangements to extend custody time limits for defendants held on remand in these cases.”

These are unprecedented times but we have no doubt that these decisions will be reviewed. It may be the case that some defendants are going to be in custody on remand for a trial for longer than the sentence they would have received had they pleaded guilty at the first hearing. This is a particular affront to justice for those who are ultimately found not guilty at trial

We have to expect that the rule of law should and will take precedence but there is a danger that this will come at a cost to the innocent. Justice isn’t just for the victims of Crime but for those who are wrongly accused.

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Family – Care

In this uncertain time it is difficult to know what challenges will face social services and how these will be overcome.  We have produced this guide for parents currently working with the Local Authority.

  • Communication

    Due to illness, self-isolation or government enforced restrictions, there will unavoidably be meetings, courses and visits cancelled.  If you are unable to attend anything as a result of self-isolation, communication is the key.  Make sure you notify your social worker at the earliest opportunity and contact the solicitor with conduct of your case so they can also communicate any missed appointments to the Local Authority legal department.

  • Self-Isolation

    Ensure that you and your family adhere to the self-isolation guidelines to ensure you all keep safe and well.   This is particularly important where you or your children have underlying health conditions.  Guidance is readily available on the NHS and government website.

  • Contact

    Unfortunately not all contact can go ahead and alternatives have to be considered such as facetime, skype or telephone.  It is important guidance is sought from the contact worker, social worker or family support worker before engaging in alternative contact arrangements.

  • Court Hearings

    At the time of writing, all court hearings are going ahead and you will be expected to attend.  The current guidance is that if you are self-isolating you should seek to evidence this.   If you are unsure then contact your solicitor who can inform the court on your behalf and take telephone instructions from you.

  • Your Solicitor

    We remain open to support you during this difficult time with face to face or telephone appointments available.  Should we be required to work from home, our firm has excellent IT systems which allow us to work securely and seamlessly in the event of self-isolation.

Useful FAQs

Please see below for a set of useful Frequently Asked Questions and their answers.

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We are offering a monthly ‘Pay as you Go’ support package to deal with all of your current HR needs.

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Visit our Family FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Employment

Visit our Employment FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Residential Conveyancing

Visit our Residential Conveyancing FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Commercial Property

Visit our Commercial Property FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Wills

Visit our Wills FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Lasting Power of Attorney

Visit our Lasting Power of Attorney FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Probate

Visit our Probate FAQ for some useful information.

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Visit our Corporate and Commercial FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Litigation

Visit our Litigation FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Personal Injury

Visit our Personal Injury FAQ for some useful information.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Criminal and Regulatory Defence

Visit our Criminal and Regulatory Defence FAQ for some useful information.

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