With uncertainty remaining as to what shape the post-Covid legal world will take, we have seen a key change relating to court and arbitration hearings. In light of Covid-19, a conventional hearing with all parties assembled together in one room is unlikely to be possible for some time to come. These physical hearings, for both court proceedings and arbitrations, are therefore now being replaced by virtual hearings conducted by video link.
The London Maritime Arbitrators Association (LMAA), a leading centre for resolution of maritime disputes, has confirmed that LMAA hearings will take place remotely until further notice. In addition, the English Business and Property Courts, which include the Commercial Court, have also confirmed that business will continue with virtual hearings.
In the volatile market conditions we are now seeing, it is widely expected that the number of disputes will increase in the coming months. It is therefore a positive sign that courts and arbitral centres are now taking advantage of technology that is available to adapt to these challenging times and hopefully ensure that cases can continue to be processed.
The president of the LMAA, Ian Gaunt, commented recently in Tradewinds that “there almost certainly will be” an increase in cases and said that “It is not just the impact of coronavirus but the volatility in the market is the sort of volatility which creates arbitration cases.”
A large part of BDM’s work involves assisting clients in the maritime and offshore sectors in arbitrations and court proceedings and we are already seeing signs of an increase in the number of disputes we are handling and issues relating to Covid-19. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you updated.
This blog forms part of a series of articles we are publishing relating to Covid-19. Our last post covered Covid-19 issues relating to force majeure. If you have not already read that, you can access that here: https://bdmlawllp.com/unchartered-territory-legal-issues-relating-to-covid-19/