We have all been subject to lockdown for at least part of the COVID-19 pandemic. This, of course, does not mean that everything else has come to a standstill. Life continues; the situation in which people find themselves and their relationships can change just as easily as in more normal times.
The additional factor which applies now is that people frequently feel more anxious and helpless under restrictive conditions, such as the COVID-19 lockdown.
Background: Sophie and Lorenzo
Things started to go wrong very quickly.
Sophie took some informal advice and was told that there was nothing that she could do until the lockdown was over. She decided to seek legal advice.
Contrary to the impression that has sometimes been given, the courts are still operating under lockdown. Some of the smaller courts have closed temporarily and many cases are being held back.
However, access to the law is still possible in an urgent situation. Some procedures have had to change to accommodate the necessary safety features to protect everyone as much as possible from the virus. A significant amount is being done online.
Lorenzo has no legal right to remain in the flat after being asked to leave. He was never a tenant in the legal sense, but was merely given permission to stay there. Once that permission has been withdrawn, which clearly it has by Sophie asking him to leave, Lorenzo has no legal right to remain.
It would be worthwhile for Sophie to report her complaint to the police, although the likelihood is that they would regard her situation as a ‘civil matter’ at the moment. (If Sophie is in immediate danger she should contact the police).
A legal letter could be written to Lorenzo telling him that he was no longer legally permitted to live in the flat and requiring him to leave within a specified, but short, time: say three days.
If that did not have the desired effect, Sophie would have two options. She could apply to the courts for:
An emergency court order that Lorenzo should be required to leave the flat within a short time
A court injunction that Lorenzo be forbidden to assault or threaten her.
These are very difficult times for everybody. However, the law still applies and the courts are functioning, even if in a different way.
There is no reason why anyone in a domestic situation should feel disadvantaged if they are being treated badly.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, or have other concerns about the impact of Coronavirus, please contact a member of our Family team.
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This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please contact our specialist lawyers to discuss any issues you are facing.