Coronavirus Update

The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly.  Rather than email general updates and risk clogging your inbox, we’ll update this page daily, or as and when our situation changes.  This is a general update page – any specific impact on any individual matter will be communicated directly to you by whomever is handling your case.

Friday update – Limited conveyancing work concluded … and a big Friday thank you to everybody for your patience this week!  

(Read our blog post on the situation with the Land Registry.)  

The Law Society and the Registers of Scotland agreed a way forward for property sales due to complete this week and we’ve been busy working to get these transactions over the line today.  Next week brings its own challenges, particularly around conveyancing, and we continue to keep our affected clients up to date with the information we have and any changes that occur.   

A huge thank you to all of clients, builders, lenders, estate agents, government agencies and legal colleagues across the profession for their understanding and patience in what has been a hugely challenging week. 

A extra special thank you to all of our staff for a tremendous amount of work in difficult circumstances.  Enjoy your weekend and more from us on Monday. 


Thursday update

Read our blog post on the situation with the Land Registry.

Our offices continue remain closed.  Conveyancing cases across the industry continue to be suspended until further notice.  All other matters are being progressed by our staff who continue to work at home with our thanks.

Wednesday 25 March

The ‘Registers of Scotland’ (RoS) wrote to lawyers yesterday (Tue) saying they are not accepting new applications for registration.  RoS play a vital role in conveyancing in Scotland.  Every sale or transfer of land and property has to be validated and registered with them.    All RoS business has to be conducted in person by hard copy.  There is no digital process at this time.  If RoS offices are not accepting new applications for registration, we cannot register a sale or transfer, which means we cannot complete that sale or transfer.

This affects all builders, all lawyers, all sellers and all buyers in Scotland. RoS indicated in their communication that they are working on a digital solution to allow them to reopen for business.

After extensive lobbying from all sections of the legal and property industries the RoS have stated this morning that they are working with the Law Society to see what can be done for those transactions due to conclude this week.  RoS have indicated they will find a solution for people settling today (wed) and we are working with our clients who are in that position.  The RoS have indicated they will communicate more later today for settlements taking place from tomorrow onwards, but cannot provide any information at this time.

However, we must stress, that there is no guarantee that any transaction will settle, but we are doing all that we can for our clients due to settle in the coming days.

We will update this page as soon as we know more.  We know this is a worrying time and that many clients are reluctant or perhaps unable to move house at this time.  We will do all we can to assist our clients make the decisions that are right for them.

You can also follow the RoS on Twitterfor updates and look at the update pageon their website.

Tue 24 March

Much of our work in legal matters can be done from home and over recent days we have been preparing for this.  From this morning, our offices will be closed to the public and almost all of our staff will be working from home. 

However, as a law firm, most but not all of our work can be done remotely – we still have to see clients to sign certain documents such as mortgage securities and sale transfer of title documents.   We will therefore contact clients who we need to see and make bespoke arrangements on how best to proceed.

It is unclear at the moment how the Government’s announcement affects the property market.  ‘Remaining at home’ and ‘moving to a new home’ would seem incompatible and so we are urgently seeking clarification on what will happen in the coming days. We are checking in with builders and solicitors to see how they are interpreting the guidance. 

Until we receive that clarification, we are continuing to operate and process transactions. 

Whilst we wish to reassure our clients that we are continuing as best we can, we are not being complacent or over-confident – there will undoubtedly be more disruption in the coming days across the legal profession and property market. 

If you have a ‘live’ case with us, we will communicate with you directly to talk over the possible implications.  You can contact staff via their direct dial numbers, but you are likely to get their answering service.   Emailing them is both preferable and will ensure we can give a faster response.   

We will adapt, we will communicate and we will keep going for as long as possible.

Mon 23 March

We continue to operate a full service at this time.

Our offices continue to be open at this time, but this may change later this week.  We strongly urge our clients NOT to visit the office unless for a pre-arranged appointment – please contact us if necessary via phone, email or the website.

Many of our staff are working from home and we have instigated a ‘rota’ to ensure that key staff are not in the office at the same time.

We’re constantly monitoring the situation and any impact on any individual matters will be communicated to you by whomever is handling your case.

Sun 22 March  Property sales continue as normal.

Articles in some weekend newspapers are giving incorrect information on property sales.

Property sales are PROCEEDING AS NORMAL at this time.

This appears to have been a misunderstanding regarding some changes to bankruptcy proceedings announced by the Scottish Government during the coronavirus emergency.

Fri 20 March FULL SERVICE

We continue to offer a full service to clients. Our business continuity planning is robust and delivering what we require of it, but we continue to monitor and improve it on an ongoing basis. Clients have been asking about Powers of Attorney and we have posted a blog on the subject here. As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch. 

As you can imagine, we’re now getting a great many telephone calls from clients asking how we are affected by Coronavirus and the knock on effect for conveyancing and other legal matters.  It would help us help you if you could email your queries and only use the phone when absolutely necessary.

Thu 19 March:  Full service.

Wed 18 March:We don’t appear to yet have any staff affected by Coronavirus, but we’ve immediately introduced a policy where half of each of our legal ‘teams’ are working from home, with the other half working in the office for a two week period, before swapping over.  Every home worker will have a ‘buddy’ in the office to assist with printing, postage and unavoidable face-to-face meetings.  This may need to change if staff develop symptoms or need to self-isolate, but we’ll review everything on a day-by-day basis. We are continuing to provide a high quality of service to our clients and doing everything we can to ensure this continues.  We’ll post regular updates on this page and will ensure that individual client specific issues will be communicated to clients by whomever is dealing with your case.As always, if you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch.

Tue 17 March: It continues to be business as usual here at Wallace Quinn, although we are having conversations with staff today about working from home when possible.  Everything in our update from yesterday (below) is still relevant and current.   We have been liaising with our cyber security contractors to ensure we have the correct procedures in place to ensure data security and we have been speaking with our specialist software contractors to ensure they have the sufficient support in place to ensure we can continue to access all case files remotely.   We have been checking in with other ‘links in the chain’ (builders, other solicitors, estate agents, other suppliers) and we’re all in broadly the same boat – preparing for the approaching storm but still seeing clouds rather than beginning to feel rain.  As always, stay safe and follow the latest government and NHS advice.

Mon 16 March – An update for all conveyancing clients from Wallace Quinn Managing Director John Quinn

All of us are watching the dramatic reaction to the coronavirus unfold through the media.  It will undoubtedly have an impact on how we conduct business in the days and weeks ahead, but as of now, the impact is minimal.  We are following government advice and taking sensible precautions to reduce our exposure.

I shall be issuing regular short updates to clients with whom we have current business and if anything drastic changes, I shall ensure you are informed as soon as possible by whomever is dealing with your case.

One immediate change we are making is to reduce our number of face-to-face meetings.  We can conduct most business remotely using email, whatsapp, telephone and video calling – there is no need to visit our offices if you are unwell or self-isolating.  Where documents need to be signed, we will post them to you and ask that you return them the same way.

Along with following general hygiene rules, if any of our staff have to self-isolate, they can work remotely from home and access your file using our secure digital case management platform.   We have offices in both Livingston and Glasgow, with legal staff at both offices able to work on any case, which helps to spread our risk.  If necessary we will prioritise time-sensitive work such as conveyancing  by utilising staff from other departments.

What is more difficult to plan for is that we are one link in a chain involving banks, builders, courts, other solicitors, the Royal Mail and more.  How these interrelated businesses will be affected is unknown, but it will almost certainly mean a degree of delay and inconvenience.

It may not quite be business as usual over the coming weeks and months, but we will do our utmost to provide an effective service while taking account of our obligations to protect the health of our colleagues, our clients and society in general.

You can also help us help you by following all NHS and Government advice.

Kind regards,

John Quinn