Coronavirus Update – March 2020

31 March, 2020 by Darren Rainey

We at Hunt Solicitors are, like all other businesses, doing our best to manage our way through these unprecedented times. All areas of our legal practice are affected and we want to provide this brief note to assist clients in particular as to where matters stand.

Courts are not processing any new cases and are only dealing with emergency applications. Even with urgent hearings that do proceed in almost all cases clients will be asked not attend court. No specific timescale has been put on these measures but if you are dealing with us on matters which require court hearings to progress unfortunately there will be no movement on these in the immediate future.

We anticipate that the Legal Services Agency who manage Legal Aid in Northern Ireland will face slower than usual processing times as they are faced with staff shortages. They are likely to focus their resources on emergency applications and as such all other cases can expect a backlog. If your matter with us is waiting for legal aid being granted to proceed we would ask that you bear this in mind in terms of anticipated timescales.

Our conveyancing practice expects to continue processing cases up the point at which a contract would ordinarily be signed. There are likely only very exceptional circumstances in which it will be advisable to go ahead and enter into contract to buy or sell a property in the current crisis environment. Even then clients should bear in mind that regardless of legal arrangements the government’s recent legislation may in practical terms make it impossible to move house e.g if “lockdown” arrangements would prohibit you doing so. Each case will have to be looked at on its merits and if you are buying with a mortgage the lender involved will also have to be happy to proceed.

At this time our offices are closed to clients. We are retaining a skeleton staff to keep matters moving as far as possible. As we will have nowhere near our usual staffing levels to deal with enquiries, we would ask all clients to be patient with us while we work through this difficult time.

We would ask clients to note the following information about contact arrangements:

In the first instance please contact us via email. If you have the direct email address of the Solicitor dealing with your matter please use that. If you do not please use our [email protected] address which we will be monitored during normal business hours to direct your enquiry on to the correct person as needs be.

If your enquiry cannot be dealt with by e-mail you can still ring our office number 028 90428600. Please note these calls will occasionally be going to a back-up system which may not be manned on a full-time basis.

Hopefully all of this disruption to everyone’s lives will prove as short lived as possible. We know people only engage with Solicitors for matters of importance to their lives and we will do our very best to support all clients as far as we can. We would ask you to support us in turn by considering these notes and following the contact process as outlined above.

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