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How Covid Has Changed Litigation

Posted: Tuesday, 29 September 2020 @ 13:26

It is the responsibility of any lawyer to react to changing events as they happen. And none more so than the pandemic.

As we have seen in retail (in which has Covid has exacerbated the trend, namely to shop online) Covid has already speeded changes in the way that lawyers should approach legal cases and the approach they take to obtaining solutions for clients. 

The fundamental driver of this is the significant variation in the way the Courts are operating and effectively we have a split between some Courts which are extremely efficient and tech ready (e,g the High Court in London) and some which are less so such as the County Court and regional Courts. Lack of funding of certain Courts was already slowing the legal process down but with Covid leading to Courts shutting, Court staff working from home.

Other factors are at play too. Parliament has taken the step of limiting some of forms of legal action(e.g residential possession claims) this has led to some limitations upon lawyers and their clients.

What to do?:

1 Identification of Appropriate Court - Often with my work you do have a choice with the Court can choose to conduct litigation or more relevantly you now have to improvise much more with tactics to ensure that your client has the opportunity to put pressure on an opponent in litigation For example I will actively consider completely different forms of legal action/forums if it is the only way to apply leverage on the opponent. Yes, it may be more high risk but the alternative is that your client may be effectively impotent.

2 Use Mediation/Skills - Where possible there is an even stronger emphasis on negotiating with effectively with opponents. This manifests in the appropriate way the lawyer and his/her client deal with the other side such as the way they communicate directly or the fact they may suggest a way to get a third party involved such as by online/telephone mediation.

3Identification of End Game. There has to be much more emphasis on the end game. To what extent have you and your lawyer projected the course of your legal dispute? What I have found is that Covid has made me more thoughtful as to the projection of legal cases. This leads to frontloading of activity and more thought about where cases are going.