COVID-19 has affected almost all the sectors of the economy due to its health implications on the population. Individuals, businesses, and countries have witnessed negative impacts of the pandemic. The legal sector has also been affected negatively in the last few months. COVID-19 has increased the number of disputes brought to the courts and forced them to change their mode of operation.
The global pandemic has made it difficult for parties to uphold terms of contracts. Many companies and individuals have not been able to meet their contractual obligations because of the disruption in the global supply chain. The suspension of flights across the world implies that there is a delay in the delivery of goods and services. Most of the contracts have force majeure clauses that stipulate the obligations of each party (Bix, 2012). In the business world, most of these obligations deal with the delivery of goods and services at a specific time and quantity.
Failures to meet these requirements require the party involved to pay damages to the other party. Therefore, disruptions in the supply chain due to COVID-19 have exposed many businesses to legal risks since they cannot fulfill their contractual obligations. As a result, businesses need legal assistance on how to reduce the impacts of the risks. For example, companies can seek legal advice on how to review their contracts with their customers to extend deadlines for supplying their goods and services. This strategy can play a crucial role in enabling to avoid legal damages emanating from violating contractual terms.
Also, COVID-19 has affected the legal relationships between employers and their employees. The pandemic has reduced the operations and profits of many businesses because of the reduction in economic activity. Consequently, employers have had to fire or suspend some of their employees since they are no longer able to pay them. This new order is increasing the cases of disputes between employers and employees. For example, some employees argue that their employers have fired them without upholding the terms dictated in the Employment Act. The latter defines both employers’ and employees’ obligations in all circumstances (Azhar, Farrukh, & Javaid, 2011). Employees who have lost their jobs have sued their former employers for violating their contractual agreements. Some companies are also not sure whether it is legal to continue paying their employees while they are not working because of reduced operations. Both employees and employers require legal assistance to deal with disputes emanating from the impact of COVID-19.
Finally, the pandemic has forced legal systems to change their operations to continue delivering justice under these extraordinary circumstances. Technology has been used in the court system in the past, though in a limited magnitude (Wallace, 2017). Courts are now encouraging their clients to seek services through digital platforms to avoid physical attendance of courtrooms. They are also using virtual sessions to conduct sessions. The legal teams for litigants are required to present their evidence through video-conferencing and other digital platforms. As a consequence, COVID-19 has increased the use of online legal services in many countries.
The increased disputes emanating from the impact of COVID-19 have created the demand for legal services and necessitated increased use of digital platforms to conduct court sessions. Most of the businesses are not able to meet their contractual terms with their customers. Employers are also facing increased disputes as they sack their workers on account of reduced operations. On their part, the courts have been forced to adopt digital methods to serve litigants in this era of COVID-19 pandemic.
Azhar, S., Farrukh, N., & Javaid, I. (2011). A study of contract employment as a suitable alternative to permanent employment. Asian Journal of Scientific Research, 1(3), 102-111.
Bix, B. (2012). Contract law: Rules, theory, and context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wallace, A. (2017). The impact of technology on courts. International Journal of Court, 8(2), 1.