John Cooke Thomson Hayton Winkley

Four weeks on since the government announced lockdown measures across the UK, Cumbria Tourism is continuing to support affected businesses thanks to vital help from its strategic partners, which represent all aspects of the tourism sector.

Coronavirus has left hundreds of businesses reeling from the impact of Covid-19 with the organisation taking around 1,500 enquiries so far from those seeking advice on how to mitigate the pandemic’s effects.

Among those partners is Cumbrian-based Solicitors Thomson Hayton Winkley, which says issues surrounding tenants struggling to pay their rent are one of their most common enquiries.

Director of Thomson Hayton Winkley, John Cooke, says, “One of the government announcements which has a bearing on many local businesses relates to tenants of leasehold properties who may be struggling to pay their rent. The Coronavirus Act prevents a landlord from seeking to forfeit a business tenancy, i.e., taking possession, on the grounds of rent arrears for a period of three months.

“The tenant is still legally liable for the rent and the risk of possession may loom large in the future unless they are able to come to some agreement with their landlord in the meantime. Here, flexibility and compromise are the key.

“The contractual situation between parties is something that we have also been asked to advise on: Has their contract with customers, guests or suppliers been ‘frustrated’ by the pandemic or does it contain what is known a ‘force majeure’ clause which could alter the contractual obligations? That said, sometimes enforcement of the strict legal position may not be the best option, and many businesses are being flexible and working with others to find an amicable solution to potential disputes.  Again, keeping goodwill is vital for future relations and avoiding potentially bad publicity.

“Once things get back to ‘normal’, I suspect that lots of legal issues will come to the surface and there is a risk of conflict between people whose legal interests have been affected by coronavirus. Trying to reach the best solutions will involve those watchwords of flexibility and compromise, and dare I say, an element of the goodwill and kindness which has emerged during the crisis.

“We are still open for business even though our doors may be locked for now. Rather than putting up our shutters during the lockdown, we have found that the best thing we can do is just to keep in touch with our clients and do business as usual as well as we can. This means that we have been able to help with a wide range of coronavirus queries that have come in from Cumbria Tourism members and existing clients, as well as continuing to deal with routine matters that are still ongoing.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “This is yet another example of the amazing support being shown to our local businesses. Recovery is likely to be a gradual process for everyone in the hospitality and leisure sector, but many can take great comfort in the help being offered by our partners like Thomson Hayton Winkley.”

Cumbria Tourism members can contact Thomson Hayton Winkley for advice under the Member Helpline, by emailing

For further information

Contact The PR Team on
01539 822222 or