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Courts and Inquiries

  1. HMCTS continues to list its daily operational summary.

Planning Updates

  1. In an interview with Zack Simons, Bridget Rosewell CBE stated that she understood the timelines outlined in PINS previous communication on planning inquiries (see our previous post here), may well be changing. You can see the full interview here.
  2. Sarah Richards, chief executive of PINS is the next guest on Sasha White QC and Charles Banner QC’s Have we got planning news for you. The details for the previous episode, alongside how to obtain dial in details, can be found here.
  3. The planning committee of the London Borough of Southwark has, notwithstanding lockdown, resolved to grant planning permission for 600 dwellings.

Public Law, Health & Social Care Update

  1. The Home Office has announced that an automatic one-year visa extension will be automatically granted to frontline health and care workers, including midwives, radiographers, social workers and pharmacists, whose visas are due to expire before 1 October 2020. The extension will apply to those working both in the NHS and independent sector and will include their family members. This builds on the Home Office’s announcement last month for NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics.
  2. The Society of Conservative Lawyers recently hosted a webinar on Coronavirus – Has the Rule of Law been Overlooked? The webinar is available to watch here.
  3. On 4 May 2020, The Secretary of State for the DWP made an oral statement to Parliament about the DWP’s response to coronavirus, which can be found here.
  4. ALBA has prepared guidance to assist advocates in preparing for and participating in public law hearings.

Property Update

  1. Stephen Whale and Evie Barden have published their second article on the legal issues around the use of public footpaths across agricultural land during the Covid-10 lockdown. See here.
  2. It perhaps seems appropriate that the Lands Chamber’s first witness trial conducted through electronic communications should concern the Electronic Communications Code: Judge Elizabeth Cooke in the Upper Tribunal has heard a two-day witness trial in the case of Arqiva Services Ltd v AP Wireless II (UK) Ltd TCR/324/2019. Jonathan Wills appeared as junior counsel for the Respondent, led by Wayne Clark of Falcon Chambers. Details of the case can be found here.
  3. HM Land Registry has announced that from Monday 4 May for a temporary period it will accept the ‘Mercury signing approach’ for deeds. This means that, for land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page. More details are available on the updated Practice Guide 8.
  4. HMLR is also introducing some changes to their requirements to make it easier to verify identity for land transactions. These are all temporary measures to address the current highly unusual coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. The changes include(1) an expansion in the range of professions which can undertake identification verification (to include retired conveyancers, legal executives, solicitors and barristers as well as regulated financial advisers, medics, accountants, teachers, magistrates, civil servants and even Members of Parliament) and (2) provision to allow verification to be carried out by video call.
  5. Further details are available in the new Practice Guide 67A.


  1. Chambers is proud to be launching its Webinar series Property in Quarantine. This will comprise two sets of webinars intended as an introduction (or re-introduction) for practitioners to two areas of property law which will become increasingly relevant over the next few months and years: The regulation of the private rented sector in England, and the basics of property insolvency. Full details can be found here.

Issue Authors: Hafsah Masood, Matthew Dale-Harris, Nick Grant, Alex Shattock.

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