Solicitors share top tips to help business overcome the challenges of Covid-19

Solicitors share top tips to help business overcome the challenges of Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused business owners to be pulled in many directions as they work hard to keep their businesses afloat and their customers and staff safe.

To help them navigate the challenges they could be facing, we asked the team at Harper James to each share one key piece of advice based on their specialist practice area. Here’s what they had to say:

Business disputes

Mark Gudgeon

Some businesses may be trying to get out of contracts that they don’t feel have any value. Be upfront with your commercial partners and their providers regarding the challenges you are facing, assess the value of the relationships and contracts going forward. Can things be renegotiated, rather than turned into a full-blown dispute? Be proactive and open the dialogue at earliest possible opportunity. Identify areas of business that you don’t really need anymore, what can be adjusted to be in line with immediate and medium-term needs.

Michael Key

Don’t ignore the problem, take early action and advice. In the current climate it can be difficult to chase payments, but businesses are trying to keep going! I would advise businesses to have a strategy and know what their options are. If necessary, agree alternative payment strategies if you are not looking to recover payments immediately.

Ian Carson

Take advice to understand your rights and legal obligations. Look for a compromise with the other side and find a sensible middle ground with flexibility and without rolling over.

Commercial

Rana Chatterjee

Speak to your legal advisors and make sure you understand how your current contractual obligations and rights are affected by what is happening. It is important to keep up the dialogue with your regular business partners, external suppliers and providers to keep relationships and business transparency going. Find a mutually beneficial solution to issues that all businesses are currently facing.

Ed Kilner

We now know that an unthinkable situation like COVID-19 can happen. My advice to businesses would be to take a step back, check your contracts and establish whether they include a force majeure clause and if a situation like this is covered.  

Angela Kerry

Concentrate on maintaining good commercial relationships with your suppliers and customers during these unprecedented times.

Commercial property

Christen Mulingani

I don’t think that industrial and retail spaces will see much of a long-term change, but office spaces will. I would advise tenants to take some breathing space before committing to a lease with a public element.

Theresa Chong

Because of COVID19, we may see potential for a great shift in case law and previously established areas like ‘frustration’. We have had a number of clients come to us over the past couple of weeks asking if they can get out of their leases. Does COVID19 present a case for arguing frustration? At the moment, the answer is no, but this pandemic may change the legal landscape with the amount of emergency legislation being pushed through. It will certainly change how we approach commitment to leases, because something like this is so unpredicted, but it could happen again and may make people cautious.

Corporate

Adam Kudryl

I would tell businesses to be open-minded and willing to embrace new ways of working that they have adopted because of the outbreak. When normality returns, seriously consider keeping in place some of those changes, whether that is for the happiness of your workforce who have shown you that they can work effectively in a different way, or  to enable you to carry on to work with lower overheads. Give things a try. Good can come from change and you can learn from it.

Abby Watson

I cover lots of share option work and have seen clients needing to reduce employees’ pay. I would recommend offering share options to employees accepting pay reductions. When things pick up, the share options should increase in value.

Stephen Evans

Business should make sure that their business plans are as sharp as they can be, and they do all they can to stand out from the crowd.

Callum Giliker

Be flexible and patient, even if it is for something as minor as timings that do not affect overall transactions.

Immigration

Rashid Uzzaman

Immigration law has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic since travel between countries is all but nil at present. However, the advice I would give to existing employers of migrant workers is that their responsibilities will continue towards their employees, even during the pandemic. If an employer is having issues, they should contact us as soon as possible so that we can advise and ensure the correct immigration systems are put in place in a timely manner.

The government has issued several relaxations of the rules regarding sponsors and migrant employees, which we are happy to discuss with employers or employees if required. These measures are aimed to assist both employers and employees through the pandemic.

In my opinion, the government has not gone far enough with these measures, especially with those visa holders who have no recourse to public funds in their visa conditions. There has to be some urgent guidance in this area so that these people are not forced to continue working (often illegally) to earn a living, especially since they are barred from claiming any form of state benefit.


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