Blog – Page 2 – Severn Valley Business Group

Land registry rules on verifying ID and witnessing signatures updated as a result of Covid-19

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By David Williams, Director & Head of Property

In all cases solicitors need to obtain confirmation of the identity of their clients. This is especially the case in property transactions and Land Registry have always been strict on who can verify an individual’s ID.

Previously, anyone verifying identification documents had to be a solicitor, licenced conveyancer or chartered legal executive.

Land Registry have accepted that social distancing and the fact many offices are now closed, verification of ID has become increasingly problematic. Therefore, they have now relaxed the rules by widening the field of people who can carry out the verification.

It now includes people who work, or have worked, in certain professions including conveyancers, chartered legal executives, solicitors and barristers who have now retired; bank officials and regulated financial advisers; medical doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons; chartered and certified accountants; together with police officers and officers in the UK armed forces.

They have also included teachers and college and university teaching staff, Westminster MPs and Welsh Assembly members; UK civil servants of senior executive officer grade or above; and magistrates.

Hopefully, this will make the job of producing verified identification documents far easier. The Land Registry have also confirmed this verification can take place via a video call.


For a property quote please email David at or call on 01630 411222.


Now is the time to make your Will

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At Onions & Davies, we have had a number of situations arise recently that stress the importance of having a valid Will in place.

One of these involved a lady who had been looked after by her “daughter” for a number of years. The rest of her family (brothers and sisters) did not really have anything to do with her. She did not make a Will.

She has died and her “daughter” is actually her stepdaughter. In life, they never really considered that because she had been a mother to her for the last 40 years, but on death this has become highly significant. A stepdaughter does not inherit under the intestacy rules where there is no Will, and everything will go to the brothers and sisters.

A second case involves somebody who became ill and died with Covid-19. He had not previously made a Will and so made one in a bit of a rush not long before he died. His main aim was to benefit his friend, who he had been very close to for many years, rather than his sister, who he had become estranged from a number of years previously.

The Will was validly made, and he had enough mental capacity to know what he was doing, but due to the urgent circumstances in which it was made, it is vulnerable to being challenged. His sister is challenging it.

We are still working at Onions & Davies and we are working very hard, because there are many people currently making or updating their Wills. However, it can be seen in situations like these, that it is important to plan properly and carefully, and in good time.

Our Private Client Team would be happy to make your Will for you, so please telephone 01630 652405 to speak to one of us or email


Witnessing a Will during the Covid-19 pandemic

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By Samantha Downs, Private Client Solicitor

I’m fairly certain that almost everyone knows that for a Will to be valid, you need to have at least two witnesses, and when signing, the testator (the person making the Will) and the witnesses all have to be present and see each other sign. Up to now, this has never really been a problem, but since Covid-19 has raised its ugly head, being socially distant and not entering other people’s homes or seeing your solicitor, means that it has become difficult to always be in each other’s presence. So what is acceptable to ensure that your Will is valid?

It’s all about line of sight. There are a number of cases dating back to 1688, which have developed the line of sight test, culminating in a most remarkable and interesting case, namely Casson v Dade (1781). The lady making the Will, a Miss Honora Jenkins, travelled to her solicitors’ office by horse and carriage. The office was very hot and she suffered from asthma. As a result she felt faint. She retired to her carriage with her Will and the witnesses. She duly signed her Will. Her witnesses then left her carriage and returned to the office where they signed the Will, so, arguably, they did not sign the Will in the presence of Miss Jenkins. However, when the validity of the Will was challenged, Miss Jenkins’ maid gave evidence that, at the moment the witnesses were signing, the carriage horses reared up, causing the carriage to move into line of sight with the office window. She stated that, had Miss Jenkins looked through the window, she could have seen the witnesses sign. As such, the Will was found to be valid.

That principle has a link to how Wills can be witnessed today, in the current, unusual situation. Where a client doesn’t have suitable witnesses within the household, then it may be necessary to witness the signing of the Will through the client’s window, in order to preserve social distancing. So, in the event that you see two people in suits loitering outside people’s windows, peering inside like smartly dressed burglars, it could be that they are witnessing a Will!

At a time when many people are considering making or updating their Wills, our Private Client team at Onions & Davies can advise you on how this can be achieved in a safe and legal manner. If you have any questions, please contact Chris Milne on 01630 652405 or at


What Our Team Have Learned From Lockdown

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Covid-19 seemingly came out of nowhere and has altered all our lives beyond recognition. The emotional, physical, mental and financial impact can be tough, and we would like to share some positive, human reflection from our staff members on what they have learned and will take from this experience into the future.

“I put too much pressure on myself to do things and its ok to be still and do nothing! Appreciate time with family.”

“Humans are extremely resilient yet prone to making mountains out of mole hills. We are definitely scaling a mountain at the moment but doing so with all the determination and resolution of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing.”

“I have realised how important my friends, relatives, workmates and neighbours are.  I have been in contact with people who would normally only get Christmas and birthday cards or meet with at family get togethers. I have taken time to check they are alright and safe and to have telephone chats and emails with them so we all feel reassured and loved.” 

“I have realised how much we have always over reacted to the petty troubles in life when compared to the seismic changes we have had to make to our lives due to the coronavirus.” 

“Being at home has actually helped my young children’s imaginations and learning how to encourage them has been a great learning curve for me.”

“The finer things in life will just have to wait until we are on the other side of this crisis. Although I do miss scotch eggs and salad cream, both of which ran out some time ago!”

“The crisis has caused me to re-evaluate what is really important to me in my life and I want to apply those values to whatever the future brings. It’s also made me realise that I don’t have enough good socks!”

“ I think that all this has given me a reality check and shown me that I must make more of an effort to stay in touch with people and not take for granted that they will always be there.”

Stay Safe.

The staff at Onions & Davies


When will my family law application be considered by the court?

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By Kim Mapperson, Solicitor

HM Courts and Tribunal Service have released some guidance as to the family work that will be prioritised by the family courts. This guidance has been agreed with the President of the Family Law Division.

The courts have categorised family work into 3 categories:-

  • The work that must be done
  • The work that will be done
  • The work that they will try their best to do

Work that must be done – this is the work the courts will be prioritising

This includes:-

  • Public Law Children including Emergency Protection Orders, Interim Care Orders, Renewal of Interim Care Order
  • Private Law Children including urgent applications Child Abduction Orders (including Tipstaff Orders), Domestic Abuse (Family Law Act) Injunctions
  • Divorce – urgent applications and decrees absolute
  • Court of Protection work

Work that will be done – this is work that the courts will work through, there may be delays however in dealing with this work

This includes:-

  • Gatekeeping and allocation referrals – care cases
  • Gatekeeping and allocation referrals – private cases
  • Other family care orders/documents/emails
  • Court of Protection – welfare cases

Work that the courts will try their best to do – this is the work that will be done where the court have dealt with the work outlined above

This includes:-

  • Other family private law orders/documents/emails
  • Adoption orders
  • Divorce Financial remedy
  • Court of Protection – property and affairs Probate

In these unprecedented times, as practitioners of family law, we are able to assist anybody who needs advice and assistance with a family law issue.  Alternative ways of resolving disputes are becoming much more accessible and cost effective for our clients including conducting private hearings, arbitration and mediation.

Applications can still be issued at court however, there will be delays determined by which category your matter will fall into.

Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly family law team who can advise and assist you in your family law issue on 01630 652405.


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