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Coronavirus update

COVID-19 

March 9, 2020

With COVID-19 continuing to spread across the world, we have undertaken a review of our operations to ensure that we are doing all that we can to protect our people, clients and other visitors to our offices, while continuing to deliver the highest level of client service.  As a result of this review, and in line with many organizations, we have made some adjustments to our usual ways of working.

Our Business Continuity Team meets on a regular basis to assess the situation as it develops, identify any immediate action required and ensure our business continuity plans are as robust as possible. 

We are keeping our people updated in a variety of ways, including internal briefings, regular email reports and dedicated COVID-19 preparedness pages on our intranet, and, through our HR professionals and dedicated advice lines and/or email address, they are able to ask questions and request personal advice and support as necessary.

In addition, we are advising clients on what they should be considering and how to mitigate the risks posed by the current situation.  More information can be found on our Coronavirus Legal Hub.

Business Travel 

We are monitoring international governmental and health agency advice, and are not allowing our people to travel to, or transit through, areas where there are high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks.  This policy has been in place in many of our locations since the start of the outbreak in January 2020 and has been strictly enforced in those locations.  In other locations, such travel requires approval from firm management. 

Our people have been advised that travel which is considered critical for client matters should continue in conjunction with their clients’ own travel policies.   Wherever possible, non-critical client meetings should be held by telephone or video conference.   Our focus is the safety of our people and our clients, and to reduce the risk of not being able to return home or the need to self-isolate after a business trip. 

Personal Travel 

We have not placed any restrictions on personal travel beyond reminding our people that it is our expectation that they do not visit areas to which their local government has advised against travelling and where there are high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks, and to tell us if they have recently visited, or are planning to visit, such areas so that we can determine whether they should self-isolate upon completion of such travel.

We have also asked our people to ensure they have up-to-date information about any area they are planning to travel to in the future.    As above, our focus is the safety of our people and our clients, and to reduce the risk of not being able to return home or the need to self-isolate after a personal trips. 

Meetings

We are reviewing all meetings currently planned (externally or internally) through the end of March where a large group of people will be together in one place and postponing or adjusting as appropriate.  

Depending on the location, we either have implemented or are implementing screening procedures with respect to visitors to our offices.  Such procedures include contacting visitors in advance of meetings to ask them, among other things, if they have travelled to, or transited through, any area where there have been high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks.  We ask any persons who have done so not to enter our premises, placing notices with the same request in reception areas.  

Our people have been asked not to travel to internal meetings and to either use the telephone, video conference or to postpone the meeting. 

Remote working 

Should we need teams to work remotely then we are well equipped to do so.  Our lawyers have secure laptops and tablets and are able to access our network remotely.  As a global organization, our teams are used to working in an agile way and our systems are in compliance with the security required to protect data while working remotely.  Our offices in Asia and Italy have adopted agile working since the COVID-19 outbreak commenced in their jurisdictions and this has worked very effectively.  

As part of our business continuity planning, and out of an abundance of caution, we have further strengthened our IT platform to support higher volumes of remote working than is typical should this become necessary. 

Our aim is to minimize impact on client service should there be a need for any team to work remotely for an extended period of time. 

 

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