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Hannah Gannagé-Stewart

Deputy Editor, Solicitors Journal

Advice on UK's diverging lockdown strategies

Advice on UK's diverging lockdown strategies


The Law Society has urged solicitors to exercise caution and vigilance amid differing advice from devolved governments on how to approach lockdown

The Law Society of England and Wales has urged solicitors to exercise caution and vigilance amid differing advice from devolved governments on how to approach the ongoing covid-19 lockdown.

“Downing Street is clearly moving towards a gradual easing of restrictions in England requiring firms to conduct a risk assessment, create an action plan to manage those risks and follow practical steps on workforce management to help their staff and clients to be safe”, Law Society president Simon Davis said today (12 May).

On Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement implying that the UK was heading towards a gradual easing of restrictions.

He advised those that cannot work from home, but could exercise social distancing at their place of work, to return to work and said daily outdoor exercise could now be unlimited providing social distancing measures remained in place.

However, while the government changed its covid-19 message from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’, devolved nations opted to maintain the ‘stay at home’ message for the time being and did no

Davis said the situation “continues to present a number of dilemmas for employers and employees alike which will need careful consideration”.

On the subject of jury trials potentially being reinstated next week, alongside other areas of the justice system, Davis said that good hygiene and social distancing remained “imperative”.

“However, the extent of the roll-out will depend on the ability of each court to meet those requirements. Some courts i.e. those with newer, larger courtrooms – will find it easier than others. The priority must be to carefully balance access to justice with safety as the easing of restrictions are planned in the coming weeks”, he added.

A KPMG report commissioned by the Law Society last year revealed that around 552,000 full time employees work in the legal services industry, and that it contributed almost £60bn total gross value added to the UK economy in the same year.

“We remain very concerned about the impact of this period on firms, on solicitors and on the public’s access to justice,” Davis said, adding: “We also should be careful to make sure we keep our employees informed and work together so that the legal profession is agile in its ability to adapt, protecting each other and our clients, finding ways of working in these unchartered waters.”