Thursday, 8 October 2020


Here is the latest about free (because you cannot afford to pay for it yourself) legal help for those caught up in civil or family court cases or who just need to know how they stand legally. 

Sometimes you will get advice only and sometimes you will get more such as representation at the hearing, be it at a court or a tribunal. Where the people you go to are restricted in what help they can give, they will refer on to another organisation who may be able to help more. Because of Covid-19 and its financial consequences, advice agencies are currently under great pressure and face-to-face sessions may well not be available. If one organisation cannot fit you in, try another. 'Ere is my contact info.

LEGAL AID   There will be a means test. Advice only on debt, housing, education, discrimination and family. aid-advice: 0345 345 4345.  There's not much legal aid available for the whole case including representation at court although it is available for some limited cases  - included are family cases where you have been the victim of domestic abuse and local authority care cases involving children - where you have reasonable prospects of success. However, you might just be able to secure legal aid which is ordinarily excluded if you can show it would be a denial of your human rights not to be granted it (for example, you could not follow the proceedings without a lawyer). Difficult to obtain but see

CITIZENS ADVICE - CAB They operate out of 2,500 locations. 03444111444

ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE ADVICE BUREAU It is based in London but don't let that put you off. 020 7092 3960 Monday to Friday between 2pm and 4pm and first email them a triage form which you can access online. 

ADVOCATE (formerly Bar Pro Bono Unit)  For representation in court but you need to be referred by Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau (see above), a solicitor or your Member of Parliament.

LAWWORKS Mainly advice at clinics (some of which may be housed in a law centre). to find out your nearest clinic and other points of contact.

LAW CENTRES  Plenty of them and they can usually do more than just give initial advice: they may be able to take on a case where full legal aid is available (see above under LEGAL AID).

FREE REPRESENTATION UNIT Based in offices in London and Nottingham they represent claimants in social security, employment and criminal injuries compensation tribunals and will go out to venues which are within reasonable travelling distances of their : 020 7611 9555.

SUPPORT THROUGH COURT (formerly Personal Support Unit) Emotional and practical support including help with court forms.

SHELTER Housing advice. Chatline at

FREE HOUSING ADVICE AT COURT For cases for possession in the county court which are mainly between landlord and tenant and mortgage lender and borrower, free legal advice at the court will be available for the tenant and borrower even though it has not been sought earlier. The adviser  may also be able to speak in court for the tenant or borrower concerned. This advice will be available for what will now usually be a review hearing when attempts will be made to get parties to agree some compromise or possibly refer the case to mediation but you will not see the judge on this day and the landlord or lender should also be present for discussions or remotely available. If the case has not settled on the review date, a later substantive hearing will be listed (at least 28 days later) and advice at court will again be available, as before.

INITIAL ADVICE FROM A SOLICITOR  Many solicitors' offices will give initial advice to see whether you have a good case and how you can go about bringing or defending it and- what it may cost you if legal aid is not available. Typically, this advice will be for thirty minutes and free. 

NO WIN, NO FEE AGREEMENTS These are for bringing a claim (not a family case) where you pay your solicitor and any barrister involved a success fee (nor more than 25% of your compensation in a personal injury case) if you win and nothing if you lose. Good game and the majority of solicitors will be prepared to act for you on this basis.

DAMAGES BASES AGREEMENTS  A bit like NO WIN, NO FEE AGREEMENTS except you pay the lawyer a cut of the compensation. 

INSURANCE  You may hold an insurance policy that covers legal advice and/or representation for a host of topics. Check all you policies, even property and household contents jobs.

LEGAL SERVICES ORDER For financial remedy applications in matrimonial proceedings, if you cannot afford to pay a lawyer and cannot reasonably raise the money to do so but your opponent can afford it, then the court can order your opponent to shell out for your own lawyer: if not for the whole of the case, for part of it.


Friday, 25 September 2020


Into force tomorrow Saturday 26 September 2020 for England come the swingingly entitled Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No 15) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1039. This - in the language of the notes to the regulations - is what they do. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/568) (“the principal Regulations”) to— (a) remove Curaçao, Denmark, Iceland and Slovakia from the list of exempt countries and territories, in Schedule A1 to the principal Regulations, from which passengers arriving in England are not required to self-isolate; (b) amend Schedule 2 to the principal Regulations to: (i) create a new exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for people undertaking activities necessary for the participation of the organisation they represent in the 4th National Lottery Licence Competition, (ii) create a new exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for elite sportspersons travelling to the United Kingdom for medical examinations and people accompanying them in order to provide necessary care and support, (iii) expand the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for people engaged in film and high end TV production so that it also applies to certain advertising production professionals, and (iv) amend the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for elite sportspersons so that it applies to domestic elite sportspersons who have been to non-exempt countries or territories for the purposes of training and multinational ancillary sportspersons; (c) amendthelistofspecifiedcompetitionsinSchedule3totheprincipalRegulations,which is relevant to the exemption from the requirement to self-isolate for elite sportspersons. Passengers are not required to self-isolate on arrival in England if, during the 14 days preceding their arrival, they have only been in or transited through exempt countries or territories, or exempt parts of countries or territories. Passengers who have been in or transited through a non-exempt country or territory, or a non-exempt part of a country or territory, must self-isolate until 14 days have elapsed since the day after they last left a non-exempt country or territory, or a non-exempt part of a country or territory. The changes to Schedule A1 will not affect passengers who arrive in England before 4.00 a.m. on 26th September 2020.

Thursday, 24 September 2020


The latest coronavirus regulations for England - the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No2)(England) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2020/1029- were published at about one minute before midnight yesterday and alomst all of them came into force at 5.00am today 24 September 2020. That's what I call fast-track law. The remaining bits and pieces come into force on 28 Seeptember 2020. Here's an edited extract from the government's explanation of the changes for you to get your teeth into. But remove your face covering first! "This instrument makes a number of changes to the Original Regulations. In particular: Regulation 4A has been inserted into the Original Regulations to provide for: • The closure of businesses selling food or drink from 22:00 – 05:00 o Cinemas, theatres or concert hall can stay open beyond 22:00 to conclude a performance that has begun before 22:00, but would then be obliged to shut once the performance has concluded. o Businesses which are required to close will be able provide services via drive through or delivery. o Exceptions are provided for certain types of business, such as motorway service areas and supermarkets, convenience stores and cornershops. Regulation 4B has been inserted into the Original Regulations to require certain businesses to: • Take reasonable steps to ensure that customers only consume food and drink while seated. • If the business serves alcohol for consumption on the premises, to only take orders for food and drink from customers who are seated and only serve them while they are seated. The business must also take reasonable steps to ensure that customers only consume food and drink while seated. Amendments are also made to each of the following regulations to remove their restrictions on businesses, and allow the provisions in Regulations 4, 4A and 4B of the Original regulations to take effect in their protected areas: • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) (No. 2) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North East and North West of England) Regulations 2020. Regulation 5 of the Original Regulations is amended in relation to the exemptions on gatherings restrictions: • The exemptions to the gatherings limit have been amended (Regulation 5(3)) to: o Restricting attendance at weddings and wedding receptions to 15 (down from 30) o Removal of exemption for religious or belief based standalone life cycle ceremonies (except for funerals, which will have a limit of 30 people able to attend) o Removal of the exemption for indoor organised sport (although indoor sport which is organised for the purpose of allowing persons who have a disability to take part will continue to be exempt, subject to conditions) o Place numerical restrictions of a maximum of 15 participants in a support groups, and restrict them from taking place in a private dwelling. Regulation 9 is amended to provide for the doubling of the amount included in Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of the restrictions on participation in gatherings, the restrictions on access to specific outdoor places and the requirements to close business, meaning that the initial fine level starts at £200 to a maximum of £6 400. Amendments are also made to the following regulations to provide for equivalent Fixed Penalty Notices to be issued: • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) (No. 2) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Bolton) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull) Regulations 2020. • the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North East and North West of England) Regulations 2020. A separate series of levels for Fixed Penalty Notices are established for the new restrictions in regulations 4A and 4B on the Original Regulations. The first Fixed Penalty Notice issues in relation to the offences of breaching these restrictions is set at £1,000, and increases to £2,000 for a second notice, £4,000 for a third notice, and £10,000 for the fourth and all subsequent notices. Consequential amendments are also made to all of the Regulations mentioned in 6.13 to ensure that the issue of an Fixed Penalty Notice in relation to regulations 4A and 4B of the Original Regulations does not affect the escalation of Fixed Penalty Notices in those Regulations, in the same way that it does not affect the escalation of Fixed Penalty Notices in relation to other offences in the Original Regulations. This instrument also amends the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Bolton) Regulations 2020 to provide that businesses in the protected area which are prevented from selling food or drink for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22.00 and 05.00 may still be allowed to make deliveries and allow customers to collect food or drink via a drive through if they remain in their vehicle."

Wednesday, 23 September 2020


I know you love 'em so let me present (cue drum roll) SI 2020/1026 - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 which were made this morning and come into force in England tomorrow Thursday 24 September 202o. Here is an authoratative extracted summary of what they do from the government. "In order to increase the protection offered to members of the public and workers in hospitality settings, these Amending Regulations amend Schedule 1 of the Face Covering Regulations to require individuals to wear a face covering when in a restaurant, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members' clubs, bars, including bars in hotels or members' clubs, public houses and theatres. Regulation 2(8) of the Amending Regulations amends Schedule 1 of the Face Covering Regulations by removing the exclusion for areas with seating or tables provided for the consumption of food and drink. Members of the public are therefore required to wear a face covering when entering, leaving and moving around in these hospitality settings. The reasonable excuses in Regulation 4 of the Face Covering Regulations are unchanged. As such face coverings can be removed within these settings for the purposes of eating and drinking or taking medication. This amendment will reduce the risk of passing on the infection when moving through a restaurant, bar or other hospitality setting, hence offering greater protections to those visiting these indoor spaces as well as those working within them. While face coverings are not a substitute for distancing and hand hygiene, there is some evidence to suggest that when used correctly, face coverings may have some benefit in reducing the likelihood of those with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic. Regulation 2(4) of these Amending Regulations inserts a new Regulation 2A into the Face Covering Regulations. The effect of Regulation 2A is that it now requires staff and other workers to wear face coverings in the settings listed in Schedule 3, where these are open to the public, and the staff member may or is likely to come into contact with members of the public. This includes staff working in public facing areas in shops, supermarkets, museums, galleries, cinemas and other indoor settings as outlined in the new Schedule 3 to the Face Covering Regulations. Regulation 2(4) of the Amending Regulations also inserts a new Regulation 2B into the Face Covering Regulations. Regulation 2B states that the requirement to wear a face covering does not supersede any obligations placed on employees by their employers to wear Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE). In such case, employees would be expected to comply with the provisions outlined by their employer, in conjunction with any obligations under the Health and Safety at Work act 1974, and wear RPE. Including staff within the scope of the Face Covering Regulations will enhance the protections offered to both workers and customers in these settings, where people are more likely to come into close contact with others they do not regularly meet. This will help minimise the spread of the virus particularly when moving around these settings. Regulation 2(5) of these Amending Regulations inserts a new exemption in Regulation 3(2)(o) the Face Covering Regulations. A staff member or other worker in a setting listed in Schedule 3 which is open to the public will not be required to wear a face covering if they are a performer performing in the course of their employment or in the course of providing their services. SAGE has previously advised that there is evidence to recommend the use of cloth masks in certain higher-risk settings as a precautionary measure where masks could be at least partially effective. These settings would be enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible to maintain consistently, creating a risk of close social contact with multiple parties the person does not usually meet. Distancing (>2 metres) remains the preferred option where possible. In such settings, evidence would support a policy where cloth masks could be used for short durations where unavoidable closer interactions with others are occurring or likely. This advice does not replace or change existing advice on other measures – such as hand washing, social distancing and self-isolation. Mandating the use of face coverings in additional hospitality settings and extending the requirement to staff and other workers working in customer facing roles, when used alongside other measures, therefore offers a reasonable protective measure to reduce the risk of infection on contamination by a virus that presents a significant harm to public health. The Amending Regulations also make changes to the Fixed Penalty Amounts for offences in relevant places and on public transport. Regulation 2(6) of this instruments amends Regulation 7 of the Face Covering Regulations and the Public Transport Regulations so that the amount of a FPN imposed for the first offence under the Face Covering Regulations is now set at £200 (previously £100), and continue to double at each subsequent offence up to a maximum amount of £6400. The amount of a FPN for the first offence will now reduce to an increased amount of £100 (previously £50) if paid within 14 days. There are no reductions from the second or subsequent fines. This is in line with penalties for other national coronavirus regulations. Whilst the vast majority of people have complied with rules throughout the pandemic, and enforcement measures remain a last resort, these amendments will further deter noncompliance and tackle those who repeatedly breach the requirement to wear a face covering.'

Thursday, 17 September 2020

COVID-19: Business Tenants: Reprieves Extended: England & Wales

Bad for business tenants if they are behind with their rent. Good news for business tenants if they feared the landlord sending in a bailiff to seize stock, their copies of Breaking Law and their padadol tablets to sell and pay off those arrears. Landlords are currently paralysed from forfeiting a business lease and bringing court proceedgs to have the tenant evicted until 30 September 2020. That period has been extended until 31 December 2020 by the Business Tenancies (Protection from Forfeiture: Relevant Period) (Coronavirus) (England) (No 2) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/994 laid before Parlimant yesterday. The same change has alreday made for business tenants in Wales. And there's an increase in the amount of rent that has to be in arrears before a bailiff can be sent in under the commercial rent arreras recovery scheme. Pre-pandemic it was seven days' worth. From 25 April 2020 this was raised to 90 days. There was a further increase from 24 June 2020 to 189 days. By the Taking Control of Goods (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1002 applying to business premises in both England and Wales, the figure is raised from 29 September 2020 until 24 December 2020 (inclusive) to 276 days' rent and from 25 December 2020 to a temporary 366 days.

Monday, 14 September 2020


They'e arrived. The latest restrictions which came into force at 12.01am today were published around 15 minutes ealier. You'll find them in SI 2020/986 - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020.If that's too much of a strain, below is a governnment summary of the changes (as slightly amended by me). Better than listening to me for four hours - or even more than six! Regulation 5 of the Original Regulations is amended to provide for: • The prohibition of a gathering of more than six people unless they are from the same household or two households where they are linked households* - unless a valid exemption applies. For a definition of linked households, you will need to take a look at the regulations. * The exemptions to the gatherings limit are (Regulation 5(3)): o For an elite sportsperson, their coach (or where the elite sportsperson is a child, their parent) and the gathering is necessary for a competition or training; o Where the gathering is reasonably necessary for work purposes; for the provision of voluntary or charitable services; for education or training; to provide childcare or to supervise activities for children; to provide emergency assistance; to enable the avoidance of injury or escape from the risk of harm; to provide care to or assistance to a vulnerable person; to facilitate access to and contact between parents and children where they do not live in the same household; o To fulfil a legal obligation; o Where the gathering is a support group; o For gatherings of up to 30 persons for marriage or civil partnership; o For gatherings for a significant event * Additionally, regulation 1(4ZA) is inserted into the Original Regulations to provide that the gatherings restrictions in private dwellings contained in the Regional Lockdown Regulations remain in place. This affects: the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Leicester) (No. 2) Regulations 2020; the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Blackburn with Darwen and Bradford) Regulations 2020; the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England) Regulations 2020; and the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Bolton) Regulations 2020 (together “the Restrictions”). * The police and local authorities will continue to monitor compliance with the Original Regulations, including the amendments set out in this instrument.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Covid-19:Wills: New Law on Witnesses

A testamentary trio. That's what the law of England and Wales requires to make a will valid. The willmaker and two witnesses, all physically together at the same time and able to see and smile at each othet. But the pandemic has made this impossible in many cases. Some wills have been signed up virtually using special software. Opinions are divided on whether or not this satisfies legal requirements. Have no fear. The law is changing retrospectively under the Wills Act 1837 (Electronic Communications)(Amendment) (Coronavirus)Order 2020 SI 2020/952 made today 07 September 2020 and coming into force in three weeks' time. Wills made after 30 January 2020 and for two years from then will be legally okay if video witnessed. This period may be shortened or lengthened in due course.