Law Society committees have provided guidance on a number of practice areas that may be affected by Covid-19.
Access resources and information organised by practice area below. If you have any queries or feedback, please contact us.
The Conveyancing Committee has clarified that there has been no change in the law in relation to the requirements for execution, stamping and registration of deeds. The requirements for registration of deeds in the PRA means that wet signatures on deeds are still required. Stamping can still be done electronically. The offices required for carrying out searches are still open to law searchers.
If sales already in contract do not close, the contract provisions relating to default will apply, unless the non-defaulting party takes a ‘good faith’ approach. This approach may not be possible if it results in that party incurring a penalty e.g. if in a chain of transactions. Parties might be encouraged to minimise disruption as far as is possible by using common sense in the particular circumstances of a case.
In relation to new contracts being negotiated, you may wish to include provisions to govern what will happen in the event that usual conveyancing practices and procedures cannot be observed due to necessary services not being available from third parties due to Covid 19. Such a clause should be considered and drafted based on the facts of each case and the circumstances of both parties, but there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ clause that would cover every conceivable situation.
More generally, practitioners are encouraged to be courteous, co-operative, fair and honest with clients, each other and with third parties. Be clear in your advice to others as to the limitations placed on your practice by these unprecedented times and of the necessary adjustments you have had to make.
If the government directs any further changes or if any of the government agencies or public offices whose services are necessary to the conveyancing process make any further changes in the delivery of their services, the Society will review the position and give further guidance.
Property Registration Authority (PRA) services
The Property Registration public offices are closed from Monday 16 March 2020 until further notice. However, we have been informed that the PRA has prioritised their work to ensure continuity of essential services. it is their intention to maintain essential services for as long as possible and they will continue to receive applications lodged by post/DX.
The PRA has requested feedback in exploring any steps they can undertake to help mitigate the effect of these unavoidable restrictions, both in the short and longer term. Input can be forwarded by email to Eamonn Morris.
Employment law issues
The Employment Law Committee of the Law Society has produced guidance and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on business disruption, lay-off, and short time arrangements.
Submitting PIAB applications online where no medical report has been received
PIAB has introduced interim arrangements to facilitate online applications without a medical report.
The President's Bulletin of 22 March has detailed guidance on drafting and executing wills under restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus.