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What actions and measures should be avoided?

The CMA is particularly concerned about certain activities, its guidance highlights:

  • Exchange of commercially sensitive information where this is not necessary in response to the crisis
  • Collaboration which unfairly excludes third parties
  • Abuse of a dominant position (including a dominant position held as a result of the crisis) – particularly to charge excessive prices
  • Seeking to maintain prices or prevent reductions in prices
  • Cooperation going beyond what is necessary to respond to the crisis in the interests of consumers

Related FAQs

When should I apply to extend the period allowed to file accounts?

The application has to be made before the date on which the accounts should have been filed, so this process can’t be used if you are already late. If you don’t make the application before your filing deadline, then a fine will automatically be generated if your accounts are filed late. Whilst you could appeal against such a fine on the grounds that the delay was caused by coronavirus issues, this is likely to be a much more time consuming and uncertain process that applying in advance.

It does not appear that the process applies to Confirmation Statements or other returns.

Can I have legal documents signed and witnessed?

Solicitors can be authorised to sign contracts for their clients – a signed letter of authority should be scanned and sent to avoid posting potentially contaminated documents.

Solicitors should exchange supplemental agreements on behalf of their clients to agree to postpone exchange and completion dates if it has been agreed to push these back.

The Law Society advises that electronic signatures be used as much as possible for contracts, to avoid possible contamination. However, the Land Registry confirms that the legal transfer document cannot be validly executed with an electronic signature. Solicitors should agree a completion undertaking that the original transfer document will be sent when received and after the restrictions have been lifted.

The Land Registry’s latest guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-impact-on-hm-land-registrys-services published on 14 May states:

We accept deeds that have been signed using the ‘Mercury signing approach’.

For land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

Solicitors should be willing to adopt this procedure for completing transactions to enable them to be registered by the Land Registry.

The execution of a transfer is a deed and must be witnessed. Members of the family can witness signatures so long as they are not also a party to the document. A witness will be more credible if they are 18 or over, but this is not a legal requirement. The legal requirement is for the witness “to be present” when the document is signed. It would be possible for a witness to be on the other side of the room or the other side of a window, and validly witness the execution of a deed. The witness does need to take precautions to avoid possible contamination from the document.

A statutory declaration does not need to be witnessed but must be administered by a solicitor or commissioner for oaths. There is no legally prescribed process for this, and there is nothing to suggest that this could not be validly done via a video telephone call if the signature on the declaration can clearly be seen by the person commissioning the oath when the oath is made.

Have you had any safeguarding issues in relation to staff they see and do you follow your normal safeguarding pathway?

Safeguarding issues are relatively uncommon, however, if they do occur, the normal safeguarding procedure of the organisation should be followed.

I submitted my online visa application but couldn't book an appointment, what should I do?

Normally, once you have submitted the online visa application and paid the fee, you have to attend an appointment to enrol your biometrics and verify your passport within 45 days. This requirement has been relaxed due to the visa application centres being closed.

Now that application centres have mostly reopened, you must book and attend an appointment to complete the application process. However, the Home Office has recently introduced the IDV app which allows applicants who previously gave their fingerprints as part of a previous application since July 2015, to upload a photo electronically. There will then be no need to attend a Visa Application Centre to submit their biometrics. Applicants who are eligible to use this electronic option will be contacted by UKVI.

Can furloughed workers still continue with union or non-union representation duties?

Yes, they can continue to undertake duties or activities for representative purposes. This includes individual or collective representation of their colleagues. They must not carry out any actual work or generate revenue for their employer or a linked or associated organisation.