The Prime Minister's announcement last night that people should only go to work if "essential" should see various workplaces now close their doors. In many instances, this may mean that post which arrives at those workplaces will not be dealt with - at least until a suitable redirection is arranged. So what if you are a landlord or tenant (or other contracting party) who wants to serve notice or thinks that you might be the recipient of one during the upcoming months?
The question of how you can achieve valid service of a notice, application etc. under a lease (or indeed under any type of contract or relevant legislation) in this "new normal" will now need to be reviewed - both carefully and urgently. Every situation will depend upon the particular provisions of the lease, contract and/or legislation, but suitable arrangements should be considered to try to avoid legal arguments in the future about whether a party has lost a contractual or statutory right.
Given the nature of their ongoing relationship, landlords and tenants may want to be particularly proactive in their engagement with each other over this issue. For example, whilst service by email has generally been excluded as a permitted method by parties to property contracts (often with good reason), it may now be time to agree short-term arrangements which allow parties to operate legal mechanisms on both sides via this route of communication. If so, then the types of issue which will need to be covered in any such arrangement are its duration, extent and the details of the individuals at an organisation who will be entitled to receive the relevant communications - bearing in mind the increased risk of absences/incapacity during the upcoming weeks and months.
Originally published March 24, 2020.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.