CORONAVIRUS: An Update from the President

Dear Member

As we head towards Easter, I write to update you following a call that I had with The Law Society today (8 April):

1. Renewing your firm's Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
The Law Society has compiled a list of some of the issues and possible solutions that you should consider if you're renewing your firm's professional indemnity insurance (PII) during the coronavirus pandemic.
It includes a list of brokers who have good market access and have told The Law Society that they are ready to work with members. Please note that this listing should not be regarded as a recommendation on the part of either The Law Society or The Surrey Law Society, and other brokers are available.

Please click here for further information.

2. Business continuity Simple web tools are being developed by The Law Society to help firms and individual members understand the range of government support available.
These tools should be available in the coming days and please look out for them.

3. Cash is still king The Law Society has set out some tips on cash flow and stress management for law firms. Please click here for further information.

4. Industry-wide guidance for conveyancing firms Guidance has been prepared by a group which includes The Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Bold Legal Group and the Conveyancing Association, and has the support of government departments, including HM Land Registry.
Its primary purpose is to help conveyancers assist clients and comply with the latest government regulations and guidance on home moving. It includes:

• Amending existing contracts.
• Advice for clients who have already exchanged contracts.
• Advice for clients who have not yet exchanged contracts.
• Advice for clients who have to move during the current restrictive period.

In terms of amending existing contracts, the stakeholder group has worked together and agreed a draft clause and the process for firms to follow when varying a completion date.

You can read the full guidance by clicking here.

5. Wet signatures and virtual execution of documents Constant communication with the Ministry of Justice about the need for change to legislation in relation to oaths and deeds continues and discussions continue about the possibility of bringing in changes in relation to the witnessing of wills, which has received a huge number of enquiries from private client practitioners since the lockdown.
I am told that there should be some further guidance on this next week. As soon as any further information is received, I will arrange for it to be passed on to you.

6. County Societies Group (CSG)
In other news, the SLS had its first 'virtual' meeting of the CSG last week.
You may recall that this is a co-operation between Devon and Somerset, Cheshire & North Wales, Kent, Leicestershire and Newcastle law societies. It was very reassuring to know that everyone was experiencing the same issues. The CSG will be working together to exchange ideas about good practice and understand what is happening across the country in these difficult times.

7. Hearing from you
I am keen to hear from any SLS member firms who are facing problems or issues with renewing PII in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is important that any problems or issues faced in the PII marketplace are properly understood and information can then be passed to The Law Society (in confidence) because the insights drive the influencing and support work during the crisis.

Hopefully the information here is helpful. If you have any comments or suggestions on ways that the SLS can support you, please do let me know.

I hope you have a happy Easter and stay safe and well.

With kind regards,

Nick Ball


Thursday, 9th April, 2020