Posted: Monday, 18 May 2020 @ 09:30
As we emerge from lockdown and many businesses try to come back, will anything change with respect to how we conduct law and manage the legal process?
It is early days but the logic must be with the profound impact of Covid 19 and its secondary effects, the answers is yes.
As we enter a stage where many individuals will suffer economic hardship and society is forced to reflect on why the virus happened and its values, would be Court users may want to consider some of the following:
Some Courts will be looking on parties to negotiate and use mediation. Whilst Courts have been more pro mediation and ADR(Alternative Dispute Resolution), this will trend will rise in order to deal with a backlog of legal matters. As a consequence, parties must be seen to be offering mediation or trying to achieve settlement. Of course some cases are resolvable by negotiation and a Court will respect that still. But, you need to go through the motions. Judges who face being overworked will be looking for parties to try to settle.
If You Are Going To Sue - Identification of Legal Method and Court is Critical. Prior to Covid 19 there were already signs of some probate courts struggling with overload and this has been exacerbated by Covid-19. However certain courts are operating very efficiently still. The High Court Business and Property Division which I regularly use has E-Filing which continues to provide an excellent service.The trick as a lawyer is to identify which legal and Court solutions work and to tailor strategy accordingly.
Ethical Behaviour Assumes More Importance - As an economy goes into recession (depression?) and questions are asked about the high number of Covid 19 deaths in care homes(as a society have we not cared enough about he most vulnerable?), it is inevitable that the value set of UK culture will be adjusted. Thus parties seeking to start or defend legal action need to factor this in how they conduct litigation. E.g writing say one extra warning letter prior to suing, making extra offer to settle. Defendants too have to be careful in not using Covid 19 as an excuse just to avoid legal obligations.
Maintain Psychological Balance - The nature of going to Court is stressful and the nature of dealing with the virus is more so. Adjusting psychologically in a balanced way is important. Sometimes I see parties who actually have strong cases do damage to their cases by lashing out in correspondence. Why? Often because they were over emotional. Legal disputes involving family are particularly difficult so the onus is to remain calm and avoid making mistakes.