2 July 2020

Changes in the Law

By Miranda Marshall, Director, Hayes + Storr.

In 2009 I took over the Wells office and the first article I wrote for The Quay was titled “Changes in the Law”. It seems right and poignant to use the same heading.

I regret to advise you that Hayes + Storr’s Wells office premises are to close at the end of June. The current building located in Chancery Lane NR23 will be handed back to the landlords. I am personally very sad about this. I have had a wonderful 11 years working in Wells and have made many friends. First, the Bank closed and now we are going too.

Had I not been delighted to head up the Wells office in 2009, it would have closed. Since then we have become more modern and have better technology, which means that we can operate remotely and “carry our office with us”. Modern office standards mean that quaint, beautiful but frankly infuriating, old offices are no longer appropriate and of course the modern hygiene requirements of Covid-19 have hastened that.

We are not leaving Wells, however. We are already making plans to have a regular surgery, with better access and more Covid-19 secure premises within the town. This will be attended by our lawyers on a regular weekly basis.

Two of my colleagues live in Wells. Laura Weston is a Wells girl and wins the prize for the longest-serving employee with 21 years. Laura’s specialisation is Wills and probate, and particularly Elderly Client Services (a bespoke and growing area of practice). Stephanie Connor is a highly experienced property solicitor who, as well as carrying out conveyancing, advises on a wide range of property matters. The third member of the team is John Newham, a wise and vastly experienced probate and Wills solicitor.

Both Laura and Stephanie have strong links with Wells and are involved with the carnival and other local events. I live a 5 minute drive from Wells and I am afraid you are not getting rid of me that easily! I too will maintain my links with the town through local charities, community and cultural events.

Covid-19 has hastened the demise of the Wells office. As many of you will have noticed, it has been in a somewhat sorry physical state for a while and needs a radical overhaul to the structure. Although I enjoyed the most beautiful office with a lovely view, it was very different for the rest of the team.

Hayes + Storr bought a new large office in Holt at the start of the year. We have long been looking for larger premises, but this was just a little bigger than we envisaged. There will therefore be room to house lots of us, together with the existing Holt staff. It is the old NatWest Bank in Holt and so has easier parking and disabled access. Our next-door-neighbour Budgens supermarket was tragically burnt to a shell this last weekend; but amazingly, the magnificent Norfolk Fire Service saved our new offices and with a delay of a month or so, it should be ready for occupation in the autumn. Fingers crossed!

Let me reassure you that all Wells deeds and documents, Wills, Powers of Attorney etc, will be moved by Hayes + Storr staff to our Fakenham office for permanent safekeeping. The storage numbers will remain the same. Any keys or other items held for safekeeping will also be transferred.

Stephanie, Laura, John and I will be happy to continue to offer home visits. These are often more convenient, secure and personal than calling at the office premises. I find that especially for many of our older clients, meetings at home are more relaxed and productive.

So, John, Stephanie Laura and I we are not leaving Wells, although the office premises are shutting. Just as soon as the world develops into the “new normal” we will let you know of our new client-meeting arrangements in Wells.

If any of you would like to discuss how these arrangements will impact upon you, please do not hesitate to telephone me or any others of the team on 01328 710210, where the phone calls will be answered and transferred.

I would be devastated, if any of our clients felt that we had forsaken them. The speed of the move has been forced upon us by circumstances. Covid-19 has affected many people’s lives more dramatically and cruelly.