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The residential property market continues to adapt to the restrictions being placed on us all as part of the battle against COVID-19.
As we set out in last week’s article
, it is still possible to progress the legal work involved in a residential sale/purchase, albeit people should (in almost all cases) put on hold any plans to actually move home until the lockdown is lifted.
There remain though some transactions that can still be legally completed during the current restrictions without breaching the letter or spirit of the government’s guidelines. Almost inevitably these properties must be vacant and the purchaser will have no related transaction.
For legal completion to take place, each party will need to sign various documents and provide those to their lawyer. Even in 2020, pieces of paper still need to be signed with pen and ink, sometimes in the presence of an independent adult witness (i.e. not someone involved in the transaction). This is proving a little challenging in the current climate where our movements are understandably restricted.
It is important to note that witnesses to a legal document need to be physically present when it is signed. It was held in a recent case that a person’s signature cannot be ‘witnessed’ remotely via video link. With the Coronavirus outbreak in mind, perhaps the witnesses could be neighbours or people that are bringing you shopping or medication. We suggest each signatory uses a separate pen and you must maintain social distancing at all times. It may be possible for the witness to observe through a window and then the document exchanged via a letterbox or similar. Once the document has been signed and handled, the rigorous hand-washing routine that we have all grown accustomed to must of course be observed.
For more information on the items raised in this article please contact Simon Cooper by clicking here