Coronavirus - Business Update
13 October 2020
Coronavirus - business update (3)
Throughout this pandemic, Temple tax have been striving to ensure that we remain fully open for business – albeit to a very large extent remotely – whilst prioritising above all else the health and safety of our clients, our staff and our members of chambers.
Having instigated a limited ‘opening’ of Chambers itself as of the beginning of September, we are now operating again on a fully remote footing following the governmental announcements on 22nd September 2020 which advised everyone to work from home if possible. Therefore, for the time being Chambers will be physically open only to the extent required by court commitments etc and our current operational status will be as follows:
- all Barristers and Clerks are fully able to work remotely and will be doing so except when absolutely necessary;
- you can contact us by telephone or email in the usual way;
- our IT infrastructure has been set up to ensure the integrity and continuous availability of email and documents handled on a remote basis;
- all conferences will be by way of telephone or video conference.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will take whatever action is necessary to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.
Should you have occasion to visit Chambers notwithstanding the above, rest assured that all appropriate measures have been taken for your health and safety:
- we have taken on board all relevant advice from in particular Public Health England,
the World Health Organisation and the Covid-19 Working Group when considering
appropriate measures to minimise the impact to public health;
- all appropriate procedures have been put in place as to the physical environment. We arranged a professional risk assessment in June 2020 and have actioned all best practice recommendations;
- Cleaning has been intensified in Chambers; government notices have been affixed in all common parts; we are limiting the amount of people in all areas; and hand sanitisers are provided throughout;
- should any of our staff or members show even mild signs of flu-like symptoms, we
will be following the governmental guidance as to medical care and self-isolation,
and we will ensure that team members are fully supported during this time.
We have received messages from clients requesting confirmation as to how the Tribunal is handling current and future hearings. The Tribunal issued further guidance in relation to this in June 2020:
“What is the status of cases currently in the Tribunal?
On 24 March, all proceedings in the Tribunal were stayed and time limits were extended by 28 days. On 21 April, a further general direction was issued which applied to standard and complex category cases and extended the stay for any directions issued prior to 24 March up to and including 30 June. Parties with hearings that, prior to 24 March, had been listed to be heard before the end of August should all have been contacted by the Tribunal and those hearings cancelled. A number of those hearings have been re-listed as remote hearings and remote hearings (via telephone or video) have been taking place in the Tribunal. In addition, a large number of appeals have been determined on the papers without a hearing during the lock-down period. The Tribunal is not currently holding any face-to-face hearings.
When will face-to-face hearings be held in the Tribunal?
The ability of the Tribunal to hold face-to-face hearings is dependent upon the easing of the lockdown and guidance from the Government. The safety of Tribunal staff and users is our top priority. At the time of publication of this document, the Tribunal is considering whether it will be possible to hold some face-to-face hearings from July 2020 onwards. In any event, face-to-face hearings are already being listed from September onwards. However, they are generally being dual-listed, as both face-to-face and remote hearings, such that if it is not practicable to hold the hearing face-to-face it will be held remotely. Some hearings are also being listed as ‘partially remote’, whereby the judge and representatives will attend a face-toface hearing but evidence of any witnesses will be given via video link. The Tribunal asks parties to give their views as the appropriate form of hearing before listing an appeal.”
All hearings attended by members of Temple Tax Chambers during this time have been remote either by video or telephone consultation. Further information can be found on the Tribunals most recent FAQ guidance note: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/200612-COVID-19-FTT-Tax-Chamber-FAQ-1-1.pdf
If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch with Claire or Lucy or your usual point of contact.
Claire James Lucy Campbell
Senior Clerk Deputy Senior Clerk
020 7353 7884