Legal work in the time of COVID-19 – Dispute Resolution
As the pandemic spreads over the world, impacting everyday lives and work, Roschier’s experts handle an increasing number of complex, COVID-19 related questions from clients, aside from their regular advisory work. We asked partners Aapo Saarikivi and Johan Sidklev in our Dispute Resolution team to describe how their advisory work has changed during the last few weeks.
What can the Dispute Resolution team help clients with in this current situation?
Many challenges have legal implications and clients need to know their rights and obligations and how to best secure or enforce those rights. Moreover, in these difficult times it is important to recall that legal advice is predominantly an input to our clients’ commercial decision-making. While we are here to tell our clients what their rights and obligations are, and to enforce those rights if necessary, it is equally important to know when to negotiate compromises.
What are the most frequently asked questions that your clients worry about?
Along with the closure of borders, component shortages, workforces in lockdown and sinking demand, clients are struggling to meet their own delivery obligations to customers, and equally to ensure that their suppliers make deliveries in accordance with existing contracts. They are facing difficult questions such as how to act when they are able to fulfill only part of their contracts, and need to make tough choices. As a consequence, there is an unusually strong demand for advice relating to force majeure and hardship clauses across different industries from projects and construction to commercial lease agreements. Clients need to understand whether they can avoid liability for their own inability to deliver, and whether they can require compliance and/or claim damages from their contracting partners. How to deal with counterparty risk is often linked to these considerations.
What implications does the situation have on your daily work?
In addition to new arbitrations and litigations relating to force majeure and hardship, we also perceive there to be greater interest in what can be achieved through injunctions and other interim measures. Similarly, down the line there will certainly be more demand for expertise in various insolvency-related disputes such as claw-back actions, disputes between creditors, board liability matters and debtor’s fraud cases.