Skip to content

The Media

The BBC

The national broadcaster’s collated content surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/coronavirus

and with regards to business:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business

Related FAQs

Is there anything I can do to try and settle my claim?

There are several options that can be used at this time to try and settle disputes. If it is not possible to settle a dispute via direct discussions between the parties then some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) might be appropriate. Mediation is the most popular form of ADR. Most people’s perception of mediation is that it needs to be in person but that does not have to be the case.

Mediation can take place online or on the telephone. Most, if not all, ADR providers remain open for business and are quickly changing their business model to ensure that mediations can still take place. Mediation can be arranged at reasonably short notice and certainly so far as the online model is concerned, it mirrors the process that is adopted when parties appear in person. Online mediation allows for joint sessions with the mediator to take place and also for the parties to break out into their respective rooms for private discussions. If a dispute settles at mediation – and the vast majority do – then the agreement reached between the parties is binding and can be enforced.

A group of senior former judges and legal academics have now called for an acceleration in the use of ADR in light of the current circumstances. They have stated that courts should promote “and where appropriate require” the use of ADR. Mediation has particularly seen an increase in growth at this time.

ADR normally results in a quicker outcome than if the matter proceeds in the courts. Due to its conciliatory nature it is a very useful process where parties continue to be in a trading relationship. Contracting parties should also consider building ADR into dispute resolution clauses in their contracts so that in the event there is a dispute the focus is on resolving the dispute as soon as possible before it escalates into litigation.”

Can I require my staff to inform me should their circumstances be such that they need to self-isolate?

Yes.

Workers (and agency workers) who are aware of the requirement to self-isolate and are due to work during their isolation period at a place other than their designated place (see below) must, as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event before they are next due to start work within the isolation period, tell their employer that they are self-isolating, and set out the start and end dates of their isolation period.

Clear communication to all workers about their obligation to do this is strongly recommended.

Can construction work be undertaken outside of any permitted hours to make up for site closures?

Many planning permissions contain a condition restricting the hours within which a developer can carry out construction work or are subject to an approved construction management plan setting out the permitted construction hours.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 entered the statute books on 22 July 2020. Section 16 of the Act incorporates a new S.74B into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The effect is that any condition/approved document which limits construction hours on a site could be amended through an application to the local planning authority. The application to the local planning authority must set out the date on which the proposed extension to construction hours shall cease (such date being no later than 1 April 2021, after which the original conditions over construction hours will resume). The local planning authority must determine the application within 14 days (beginning with the day after the application was submitted) otherwise there is deemed approval.

New guidance has been published alongside the Act and is available here

What should I be mindful of in relation to pregnant workers? Is there a right to suspend?

Yes, but as a last resort. In summary, the law requires employers:

  • to assess the workplace risks posed to new or expectant mothers or their babies;
  • to alter the employee’s working conditions or hours of work to avoid any significant risk to them;
  • where it is not reasonable to alter working conditions or hours, or would not avoid the risk, to offer suitable alternative work on terms that are not “substantially less favourable”;
  • where suitable alternative work is not available, or the employee reasonably refuses it, the employer should consider whether it is appropriate to suspend the employee on full pay.
What processes can I adapt regarding Housing Disrepair?

As we all adjust and adapt in line with the Government’s guidance throughout this uncertain time, we must consider how we can revise current processes and implement new ones to maintain effective and compliant ways of working. We have identified several key issues that all housing providers should consider.

Protocol Compliance

Housing providers will continue to receive new disrepair claims. Throughout the disruption caused by coronavirus, landlords will still be expected to respond to these claims and comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Conditions Claims whilst doing so. We address the issue of disclosure in particular below.

Letters of claim will continue to be sent by post to your Registered Office, and the deadlines will run from the date of deemed service. Ensure you have systems to enable you to scan correspondence and forward it to the responsible officer who will handle the claim so deadlines are met.

Under the Protocol, the deadline for disclosure is 20 working days from deemed service of a letter of claim (2 working days after it is sent). So, for example, a letter dated 2 March 2020 would be deemed served on 4 March 2020 and disclosure would therefore be due by 1 April 2020. All housing providers must continue to comply with the Protocol and so landlords should begin preparing now.

Failure to meet deadlines often result in the issuing of further applications to court by tenant’s solicitors which in turn will lead to unnecessary costs orders against landlords.

Therefore, all records, particularly relating to customer contact and repair logs, should be held electronically. If required, this will allow for such documentation to be redacted for GDPR purposes remotely and disclosed to the tenant’s solicitor simply and efficiently.

Remember it is possible to request an extension to all Protocol deadlines and it is inevitable in these unusual times, this will need to be utilised, and should not be refused. Request extensions to deadlines at the earliest opportunity to enable an achievable timescale. It would be a difficult lawyer that would not agree to such a request.