Co-op Legal Services customer update for coronavirus

We are still working, continuing with your cases, and taking on new clients.

We are following government advice in order to keep our customers and colleagues safe, and we have made significant changes to how we operate.

Our offices are closed to the public. All our colleagues that can work from home are doing so in order to keep safe. If you would like legal advice and have not contacted us before, please call us on 0330 606 9548 or request a call back using our contact form.

If you are a client with an ongoing case

How to contact us

The best way to contact us is to email your solicitor or case handler directly. If you cannot email, please call on 0330 606 9548. You can leave a message for a call back, or you will be redirected to a case handler who is working remotely. Our telephone lines may be busier than usual so please bear with us. We aim to respond to all telephone messages within 24 hours. Instead of face-to-face meetings our solicitors and case handlers are using telephone or video calls.

Sending documents

Please only send essential documents, like signed legal documents, for example a Lasting Power of Attorney. We have fewer colleagues working in the post room. For anything else, please send a copy as an email attachment to your Solicitor or Case Handler. If you’re not sure whether something must be posted, email your solicitor or case handler to check.

Confidentiality

We would like to reassure all of our clients that our regulatory and legal duty to keep their information confidential will continue to be observed. All of our colleagues who are working remotely are doing so on Co-op Legal Services' networks. Your confidentiality will not be compromised.

Updates on probate

Potential delays to probate cases

There is a risk that Probate cases will be delayed, but we are doing everything we can to keep delays to a minimum and keep your case moving forward. We are working from home, but this should make no difference to the service you receive.

We will continue to keep you informed on how your case is progressing and you can contact us as usual.

The Probate process involves a lot of other organisations, such as the Probate Registry, HM Revenue & Customs, HM Land Registry, and financial institutions. Like us, these organisations are having to adapt, and may operate more slowly than usual.

If we have to wait longer than usual for documents or clearances from other organisations, your case will be delayed. If there are specific delays your case manager will fully explain them to you.

Update on wills and estate planning

We have received questions from people who are concerned about their Will as they require signatures and witnesses, and that is now difficult.

There are strict legal requirements for the witnessing of Wills. If these are not observed, the Will may be invalid.

For a Will to take effect it must be signed and witnessed. If you have given instructions for a Will but not yet signed it, it won’t stand if something happens to you.

If your current Will is not in line with your current wishes you should make a new Will and get it signed and witnessed as soon as possible.

If something happens to you before the new Will is signed and witnessed your old Will still stands, if you have one.

When arranging for signatures to be witnessed please consider the current government guidelines around coronavirus and distancing.

For more information, see our Guide to Making a Will during Lockdown.

Updates on family law

We are working from home, but this should make no difference to the service you receive. We will continue to keep you informed on how your case is progressing and you can contact us as usual. We have the technology to continue moving your matter forward with both the Courts and the other side's Solicitor, if applicable, so long as they are also still working.

We will keep you updated with what the Courts are doing and let you know if we expect any delays.

Divorce

Potential delays of divorces

The Courts are still open and operating as usual, but they are working with fewer staff. We expect that things might take a bit longer. We are reciving daily updates from the Court and will keep you updated. So far, we have not been notified of any significant delays to divorce proceedings.

Starting a divorce while you’re at home

We can complete your entire divorce via phone, email and post. There is no need for you to come to our offices or to go to Court. We can handle all the paperwork for you and submit your application directly to the Court using their online portal.

Getting your decree nisi and decree absolute

You will still get your decree nisi and decree absolute - the Courts do not require your attendance at Court for these. The Courts are working with fewer staff, so it may take a little longer than we would normally expect.

Children

If your child’s other parent will not let you see your child, and you normally do, the government announced on 23 March 2020 that parents who have separated and share care of their children should continue with the shared care.

You can deliver your children or arrange to have them collected so that they can spend time with both parents in accordance with a Court Order.

If there is no Court Order in place, then the usual contact pattern should continue.

Parents should only travel for the specific purpose of collecting or returning the children to the other parent.

Contact with Children that Normally Takes Place Outside of Your Home The government have advised that people should not gather in groups of 2 or more. If you are visiting your children at a place other than your home, you may find yourself fined for being part of a gathering. You are allowed to travel to collect and return your children as part of any contact arrangements.

How court hearings are being conducted

Most Court hearings are being conducted by telephone conference or video call. We should be notified of these before the hearing date. If we are not notified, we will contact the Court directly for confirmation that they are happy for the hearing to proceed by telephone conference or video call.

Getting a hearing date

You will still get a hearing date. The courts usually list a court hearing within 3 months of receiving the application. However, as there are fewer Court staff, your hearing date might be longer than 3 months away.

Related content on family law

Updates on personal injury

Medical examinations

Most medical agencies and medical experts are considering what appointments can go ahead, depending on their own commitments in their NHS practice and the vulnerability of the individual.

The rules have been relaxed allowing for some examinations to take place by telephone or video rather than in person. If you are particularly concerned, or if you’re likely to be considered a vulnerable person, then in most circumstances we will arrange to put your examination on hold until a later date.

Court hearings

Where possible most Courts are arranging for priority hearings to go ahead by telephone or without the physical attendance of all of the parties.

Non-essential hearings may be delayed to a later date. Some Courts are using safety measures to ensure ‘social distancing’. If you have a hearing approaching that you were due to attend, please email your Case Handler and we will find out what will happen.

How this will affect your treatment

As there are so many different providers of treatment there is no single answer, but many will be affected. Some therapists may be able to provide telephone or video consultations for psychological therapy and even certain physiotherapy.

Urgent treatment may go ahead, as the government guidance allows for this, but it will depend on the nature of the treatment and the vulnerability of the patient.

It is possible that you may be asked to undertake home exercises for physical treatment.  If you are concerned about whether this will go ahead, please email your Case Handler for further information and we will clarify for you.

Updates on employment law

The Employment Team are predominantly working from home, but attending the office when needed. This should make no difference to the service you receive.

We will continue to keep you informed on how your case is progressing and you can contact us as usual. We have the technology to continue moving your matter forward with both the Tribunal and the other side's Solicitor, if applicable, so long as they are also still working.

Some Tribunal Hearings have been cancelled however, we have contacted all those individuals affected to explain the options. We are also seeing that Employment Judges are trying to list cases for remote Hearings wherever possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns about your case. In the meantime, you may find the following articles useful: