1. The worldwide spread of the Coronavirus has resulted in emergency measures and Government guidance about restricting physical contact with other people and staying indoors as far as is possible.
  2. At Scott Rees & Co, our leadership team has been meeting daily to discuss coronavirus and its implications on our business operations, team members, and service levels for our clients and contacts. Anticipating yesterday’s Government announcement, we have implemented a work from home policy for most of our people. We already have thorough and tested contingency plans in place and are well prepared for this situation as our employees can already work remotely as the need arises, utilising technology to best effect.
  3. This is particularly key for time critical services such as court work and conveyancing transactions and we can reassure you that we have robust plans in place to cover all eventualities.
  4. The exceptions to our home working policy relate to physical mail and cheques. Mail has to be collected, opened and scanned in. Outbound mail has to be printed, folded, enveloped, franked for postage and collected by the couriers/mail services. Some documents must be signed in ink, notably some court documents but most particularly in conveyancing and outbound cheques.
  5. Our office computer systems are robust and maintained on dedicated servers. Our systems should not be affected at all by this current situation.
  6. Our staff have complete access to the same systems at home as they have in the office, including telephones which we rout digitally. Staff are using headsets or their device’s speaker/microphone array. Please bear with us on any call as some of this technology is new to the staff member using it and they will quickly become proficient, but there may be teething issues.
  7. Our office broadband and server broadband is robust and on commercial terms as you would expect. Our staff’s homes are not universally blessed with good connections. Again, please bear with us if the connection is slow or gets dropped. Most staff are not reporting this but we have had a couple of cases of signal being lost yesterday. Our IT team and our external contracted support company are trying to eliminate these instances.
  8. Otherwise, our service is still being delivered and we would please ask for your patience, understanding and forbearance if a technical issue arises.
  9. As mentioned above, our staff are having to attend the office and work in relatively limited space to open mail, send mail and create cheques. Anything we can do to mitigate the number of postal items in or out can only serve to protect the staff by reducing their time on site.
  10. Unless a physical piece of paper is an original piece of evidence or must be physically signed, we are asking everyone to please accept email and to use email to communicate with us (in place of using the post).
  11. This may mean in some cases an opponent waiving strict service requirements and agreeing to receive documents electronically. We would also seek that an opponent agrees to accept electronically signed documents without dispute during this period.
  12. In respect of payments, we try to use electronic payments wherever possible. A BACS payment is free of charge, albeit there are charges for Same Day Transfers (usually required only on property work). Unfortunately, due to sophisticated internet fraudsters being able to intercept and amend an email, we can not rely upon an email containing account details on its own. We will need to speak to the account holder (if a personal account), who must be able to answer security questions. If it’s a business account, someone in the accounts team will be able to deal with this.
  13. If you do need a cheque, then we need to arrange for the same to be produced and for a partner (or perhaps 2 partners, depending on the sum involved) to drive to the office and sign the cheques. Again, to minimise risk, we will be processing cheques less frequently and we would encourage anyone who can use the BACS system to change over to it.
  14. The latest guidance from the court service is found here : www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-courts-and-tribunals-planning-and-preparation#coming-to-court-or-tribunal-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak
  15. This advice is being updated by the Court Service regularly and we shall not repeat it here. However, if you have a court hearing, please tell us straightaway if any participant, including a witness, or the person acting as Litigation Friend for child or patient is effected by the Coronavirus or is quarantined. If you are unsure if someone is needed at court, tell us anyway and let us give you advice about it.
  16. Many clients have to attend physical examinations for medical reports to be compiled. The Guidance for routine cases has been issued via “Medco” an industry body recognised by the Government. Their advice can be found here www.medco.org.uk/news-and-updates/coronavirus-advice-to-users
  17. The Medco advice is the only advice available at the present time.
  18. We would expect all medical experts to check with you the day before the examination to ensure that you are fit to attend. Some medical experts may themselves be affected by the virus and the medical agency and we shall do our utmost to give you notice and (if an option) arrange a replacement expert.
  19. Finally, we expect no significant interruptions in our service. Our team are fully committed to providing a high level service and will continue to provide support by phone, email, video conference or any other suitable method of communication. We are confident in our abilities to continue to support you through these challenging times.
  20. If you have any queries or concerns during this period, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual SR contact.