The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) became law on 26 June 2020. It contains some temporary provisions required as a result of COVID-19 and some permanent provisions that have been in the offing for a while which will make sweeping changes to the current insolvency rules.
The Temporary Provisions
The temporary provisions are aimed at providing businesses with some relief from problems created by the current COVID-19 pandemic including the temporary suspension of wrongful trading laws and the prohibition of the use of statutory demands and winding up petitions.
This article outlines the ramifications, in terms of employment law, of a return to the office workplace and offers some practical steps that can be taken.
The main issues that we plan to cover are employer considerations in preparing for the return of workers to the workplace, communicating information about new working procedures to staff and employee rights on the return to the workplace. There are some tips on employees travelling to and from work and the issues this may cause. We will also provide details of the Governments latest Furlough advice, including the Flexible Furlough Scheme and how this can be implemented.
Landlords cannot at present evict their tenants due to rent arrears, as one of a number of Government measures introduced to ease the burden on businesses due to the Coronavirus. Tenants will have welcomed this measure; their landlords almost certainly less so.
It makes no difference if the rent arrears pre-date the pandemic.
There are parallel – though slightly different – restrictions on landlords of residential properties. In this article we focus primarily on commercial leases, where there is a prohibition on landlords taking any repossession action through the courts, currently until 30 September.
Future Fund – access to growth capital for high growth companies
The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a reduction in the usual funding streams for some businesses and has forced the Government to think creatively about how they can support promising, infant companies. The result is the new Future Fund.
What is the Future Fund?
On the 20th May 2020 the Government launched another Coronavirus short term rescue package to support business. The Future Fund is aimed at helping pre-revenue or pre-profit companies that were struggling to qualify for other Government rescue packages.
Reviewing and implementing your credit control procedures
COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown are having a huge impact on the cashflow of most businesses. 25% of UK businesses have temporarily closed down; 38% of businesses still in operation have reported substantially lower turnover; and 36% of firms have 3 months or less of cash reserves left.
Inevitably this pressure on businesses is set to continue but there is also an opportunity for SMEs to improve your cash position by good housekeeping. The Government is encouraging a culture of forbearance between businesses at present but this should not require you to take an excessively lenient approach to recovering debts that are rightfully due.
With better days hoped for ahead, we ask what the Law Commission’s recommendations on extending time limits and enlarging Employment Tribunal jurisdiction may mean for employers.
Politically, there may be willingness in future days to recognise the contributions of workers during Covid-19, in a departure from the predominant mindset when the current Government swept into number 10. Certainly, the Prime Minister is one reported to be in reflective mood.
The Law Commission has no power to change the law, but the Government (under protocol) has to respond to the Commission’s report and historically more than two thirds of its recommendations have been implemented.
Is this the calm before the storm for business?
At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic many were predicting that this could be the busiest time ever for insolvency professionals. Early indications seemed to indicate this with many insolvency practitioners and lawyers experiencing an initial manic period of providing (often free) telephone advice, but most companies now appear to be hunkered down waiting for the lockdown to finish and surviving by utilising the rescue packages created by the Treasury.
Claire Morris (pictured below), joined Bermans in September 2006 as a trainee solicitor and is now a Partner in the property team. We spoke to her to learn more about her and her work.
Bermans has made two appointments to its Corporate team. The team, led by Jon Davage, welcomed Barney Leaf as a partner and Simon Nolan as a Solicitor from Laytons LLP.
Barney has over 20 years of corporate law experience and acts for international and domestic businesses in many sectors ranging from retail, online, law firms, insurance, finance and investment funds.
Joining Barney from Laytons will be his assistant solicitor, Simon Nolan. Simon will undertake the variety of corporate instructions that are generated by the varied portfolio of clients that Bermans acts for.
We appreciate that these are unprecedented times and as such we want to reassure you of our ability to operate effectively and continue to support and serve our clients.
We are an ISO 27001 accredited business and as part of our continuing certification we must be able to demonstrate that both a documented and tested Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Recovery Plan are in place.