This is an update on how at Thomas Barry & Company Solicitors and Notaries Public we are dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
The safety of our clients and staff is our primary concern. We wish everyone good health and well-being at this difficult time.
The first element of our response is to do as much business as possible online or remotely. For many this will come easily. For others it will require adaptation. With a little patience it is a realistic option for practically everybody. If you are in doubt please ring us at +353 1 6773434 and we will talk you through.
In an evolving situation we are open to and very much welcome suggestions as to how we can further adapt and provide the services that people need. Below is an elaboration on some of the measures we are taking.
1. Remote Working
All our staff have been set up to work remotely with full access to the technology and tools needed to continue to serve our clients. Our normal Thomas Barry & Company contact details continue to operate as before. The best telephone number is +353 1 6773434 where the switch is manned remotely during office hours.
2. Face to Face Meetings
Face to face meetings are suspended until further notice. Most of what is done at such meetings can be done remotely, even most document signing with which we can help you using various alternatives.
On the rare essential occasions where face to face meetings have to occur we ask for your co-operation by raising any queries beforehand so the visit is as of short duration as possible. Such visits will take place in a controlled environment. Sanitising / hand washing facilities are available at ground floor level on entry to the building and we will follow the recommended physical distancing protocols. Clients should bring their own pen and be unaccompanied.
3. Alternatives to In Person Meetings
Alternatives such as emailing, telephoning, conference calls, Skype and WhatsApp are available.
4. Notary Public
Having documents notarised is often essential for international transactions.
With such a relatively small number of Notaries Public in Ireland (approx. 2% of solicitors are Notaries Public) it is important that we continue to provide this service. Historically the vast majority of Notary Public work has required personal attendance. We have implemented measures which can reduce or eliminate that need.
The immediate effect of COVID-19 on the property market is likely to be quite significant. The practical impact on buyers’ and sellers’ ability to transact will have to be judged on a case by case basis. Most problematic are likely to be transactions already in contract or chain transactions.
We are committed to helping our clients work their way through their unique situation as is best possible. If you anticipate difficulty, please contact us now. Don’t wait for the problem to arise when it will then have to be dealt with in even more pressured circumstances.
Court activity will continue as determined by The Courts Service. We will continue to provide our services as needed. The present position is that many cases are being postponed and the requirement for in person attendance has vastly reduced.
7. Wills & Enduring Powers of Attorney
We have always encouraged our clients to make and keep their Wills up to date. Never was the need more apparent. We have put mechanisms in place whereby most of the interaction in relation to Wills can be done either by phone or electronically. The one area where face to face contact is required is signing. The Succession Act, 1965 is clear – The Will must be completed by the person making it (the testator) in the physical presence of witnesses who must then sign in the presence of the testator. Because of the risk of error our preference has been to stick with conventional attendance at this office for signing. In current circumstances that is not practical. We operate a number of mechanisms to overcome the obstacle. For more information please ring us at +353 1 6773434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Similar arrangements are in place to complete Enduring Powers of Attorney without the necessity of face to face meetings.
The Probate Office is continuing to accept applications by post. This means applications can enter the system and be processed. Unfortunately, for technical legal reasons, the final step, the issue of the Grant, will not occur until public health restrictions are lifted. Applications should continue to be lodged at the earliest opportunity.
9. Business Hotline
We are privileged to act for and have close relationships with several businesses and SME’s. COVID-19 has and will continue to have serious implications for them. The potential adverse consequences need to be evaluated and where possible measures taken to reduce the effects of such. We realise how vital it is that businesses keep going as near normal as possible.
Our simple statement is that if you have a concern and think we can help, do not hesitate to pick up the phone or send us an email. If you do not reach the person you want immediately we will come back to you as quickly as possible. Cost is well down the priority list and if it is a simple steer you want or an enquiry you have there will be no charge. Among the issues that immediately arise for businesses are:
- Employee Rights
- Emergency Legislation
- Contract Obligations
- Rental Payments & other Landlord and Tenant Considerations
- Considerations for Owners and Occupiers of Commercial Premises
- Corporate Governance / Board Activities
- Insurance Cover
10. Family Law
Where the parties are committed to working out their differences by negotiation, Family Law should be relatively unaffected except to the extent third parties need to be involved e.g. a bank needs to consent to a property transfer or a Pension Adjustment Order is required. Contentious Family Law matters will be affected by how active and available the Courts are – as a general rule for emergency applications only.
11. Wards of Court
Special arrangements are in place for the Court to hear applications for wardship.
Please feel free to refer with any query or suggestion.
Beir bua agus beannacht.
28 March 2020