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Advice for Home Movers during the Coronavirus Crisis

View profile for Robert Alcock
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Chattertons Solicitors remain open for business during the coronavirus crisis.  However, we are following Government recommendations in order to protect the health of our clients and our staff.  We have strong processes in place to ensure that we maintain the quality of our work and provide you with continuity of service.  Our conveyancing teams are able to work securely and remotely from anywhere with Internet connectivity.  There may, however, be a short delay in answering telephone calls or responding to emails, so please bear with us during this time.  The best way to contact your conveyancer is by email initially.

The present difficulties do, nonetheless, give rise to special legal considerations for our clients entering the exchange of contracts and completion phase of their transactions.

Once you have exchanged contracts on a sale or purchase, you are contractually obliged to complete that transaction on the agreed completion date.  If any party cannot complete on the agreed date, it will be the defaulting party who will be deemed to be in breach of contract, even if the reason for that default is some form of isolation due to the coronavirus.  The defaulting party may be liable to pay compensation to the other party.  The compensation can range from interest for late completion or potentially the loss of the deposit paid on exchange, for buyers.

The Law Society have advised, and we agreed, that it is not currently workable to seek to insert clauses into sale or purchase contracts to cover all eventualities arising from the coronavirus.  One option is to agree with the other party that there be a simultaneous exchange of contracts and completion on the day when completion is due to take place.  However, there is a very real risk that come moving day, the other party or one of the parties in any chain may indicate at the last minute that they are unable to move.  You may then have to move back to your existing property and pay the cost of removals that you have organised.  There will be no legal or financial redress against the party who pulls out at this stage.  Alternatively, you may wish to exchange contracts and set what we call a long stop completion date with the parties agreeing that completion shall take place on a specific date prior to this long stop date by agreement.  In our view, this will also lead to uncertainty and has little advantage over simply exchanging contracts and setting a short completion date.

It is hoped that all parties involved in the home moving transaction will be cooperative and work together so that we can continue with the transactions on a business as usual basis.

We would encourage you to keep in telephone contact with all of those involved in your conveyancing transaction (for full contact details visit our people page here), prior to exchange of contracts, so that the best approach in your particular transaction can be agreed.  You also need to think about what you will do should you or a member of your family need to self-isolate during the moving period.

We will do all that we can to reduce disruption to your transaction and are always available to discuss the matter with you.

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