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At the time of writing, we are a little over six months into the Covid lockdown. The teams at Charles Russell Speechlys have managed to continue working at full capacity supporting all clients with their legal queries, whether that is about a personal issue or one facing their business. Here are some of the ways we are offering support, from navigating Government funding, to those considering how they should now structure their business.

The Covid-19 pandemic has produced many challenging issues for property owners and occupiers. Our Real Estate Team has actively supported many businesses through this period including hosting six free webinars led by a panel of legal experts focussing on the key property issues arising from the pandemic including guidance on the government suspension of forfeiture and its impact on landlords and tenants, how landlords and tenants should document rent concessions, how changes to insolvency law have impacted on property owners and occupiers, and the legal health and safety issues which apply and how to adapt office premises to comply with government guidelines on the phased return to work. We have also provided rapid response flyers to a variety of different businesses summarising the key property issues and changes which have arisen as a result of the pandemic including a free 30 minutes advisory service which has been very well received.

Claire Timmings, Legal Director

In the highly uncertain and challenging climate of lockdown and ever-evolving government policy, businesses have had to adapt and react in order to survive. It is not surprising then, that we have seen a significant increase in requests for restructuring advice during the Covid-19 pandemic. These have not only come from businesses needing to restructure their own affairs but also from businesses and individuals requiring assistance in their dealings with third parties experiencing financial difficulty. 

We have acted as a sounding board to a wide range of clients and potential clients, as well as providing legal content through webinars, articles and legal updates, including the wide ranging reforms introduced to UK insolvency law in June by the Corporate Insolvency & Governance Act 2020. We have worked hand in hand with those working in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, negotiating standstills and other informal arrangements on their debts, as well as acting in relation to more formal processes where required, including administration and company voluntary arrangements.

Roger Elford, Partner

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a raft of new funding schemes and support packages available for businesses that have been affected. We have produced a number of guidance notes on these schemes, including the Government’s Bounceback Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.

We have assisted a number of clients with applications to the Future Fund, which is the first of its kind in the UK, being a scheme under which the Government (via the British Business Bank) will take direct equity stakes in businesses on conversion of a convertible loan agreement and matches the level of funding provided by 3rd party investors. We have also offered free 30 minute rapid response units to advise businesses on key issues affecting them following the pandemic, as well as offering free 30 minute “return to work” surgeries as businesses started to re-open, which our clients have found invaluable and have been appreciative of this support during a very difficult time.

Rebecca Burford, Partner

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