The top FT stories read by the legal world in the coronavirus lockdown
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The FT is reporting on the many ways the pandemic has affected the legal sector, from the move to virtual court hearings to plans to furlough staff and cut or freeze pay — and the longer-term implications of such moves.
As the sector prepares to be inundated with litigation queries resulting from the crisis, we have covered the complications surrounding accountability. We also looked at the legal action companies face if they fail to protect employees from the spread of Covid-19 once lockdowns ease.
The following stories are taken from our Full Disclosure newsletter, sent to FT subscribers in the industry each week, sharing what has been most popular with legal readers on FT.com.
Legal sector subscribers to the FT have been reading stories about data security negligence, how US courts may decide when citizens next get a haircut, and the various litigation battles emerging from the crisis.
This week Full Disclosure is delving into one of the biggest questions to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. How will the world manage the impending deluge in litigation — and who should pay?
Battles are already being waged between small restaurants and insurers unwilling to pay for business losses and cruise ship operators are being accused of negligence. Far more are to come.
With a rush of claims set to overwhelm already gridlocked courts and litigation only serving to heap on more financial pain, is there a better answer? A compensation fund like those set up after the 9/11 terror attacks or Hurricane Katrina is one idea. Policyholders should take heed — this crisis is going nowhere fast.
Last call for your hackathon ideas. The deadline to enter problems that need solving in the wake of coronavirus or join a team to solve them is May 17. Do get in touch too with your thoughts about returning to your workplaces. What is your firm doing to prepare when the lockdown eases, and how comfortable do you feel? Let me know @katebeioley_FT.
The eventual easing of lockdown will bring a gamut of legal questions for employers, who face negligence and constructive dismissal claims if they do not stick to government guidelines to keep workers safe.
“One senior union official said he was expecting a wave of legal actions where rogue employers failed to maintain appropriate workplaces while coronavirus remains a threat.”
A data security flaw has left more than 10,000 legal documents containing sensitive details of commercial property owners unsecured for years in an online database, potentially affecting almost 200 law firms.
“The cache of documents, which included Companies House property transaction forms containing authentication details such as email addresses and passwords, had been scanned and uploaded by legal firms — including three of the ‘magic circle’ — using a product from Advanced Computer Software, Britain’s third-largest software company.”
The FT North America correspondent Patti Waldmeir looks at the small businesses and individuals worried about being sued when fear turns to lawsuits in the US — hairdressers included. For now, she will be sticking to her own shears.
“So courts could be making some of the biggest decisions in my life in coming weeks — like when I can get a haircut. My girls managed to shave my head with shears we bought online last week, but I’m eager to take that botch job to the professionals as soon as possible.”
The UK financial regulator will ask the courts to sort out the growing controversy over whether the lockdown is covered by business interruption insurance — one of the main litigation battlegrounds emerging from the pandemic.
“Many policyholders have had their claims turned down by insurers who said they were not covered for losses in such an event. Smaller businesses — especially pubs, bars, restaurants and theatres — have warned they could go bust before the dispute is resolved.”
The suspension of UK tax tribunal cases in order to mitigate the spread of coronavirus risks some companies going bust and extended uncertainty for many taxpayers, say lawyers.
“Keith Gordon, a barrister at Temple Tax Chambers, said there was a ‘good argument’ for the government to consider waiving interest on taxpayers for the duration of the delay in hearing.”
We are all looking for creative solutions to our cabin ever, and what better answer than endorphins-by-proxy? Full Disclosure refers, of course, to the best adventure films to stream at home, as showcased by the FT Life & Arts team. Join a group of elite Californian skiers on the slopes in Blizzard and or visit the well-known pastime of cave unicycling (no, us neither). All the benefits (almost) without any of the unnecessary human contact. On Cave Unicycling:
“This wacky, low-budget short documentary features a group of friends who ride their unicycles inside Ogof Agen Allwedd, one of the longest cave systems in Wales.”
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In Part 9 of legal sector responses to the pandemic: FT hackathon teams reveal their solutions to the most pressing legal, regulatory and civil society challenges emerging from the Covid-19 crisis. Plus: what the legal sector is reading on FT.com
This is the final instalment of this series