It has been well over a year since COVID-19 and the pandemic it birthed literally shut down the world. The impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. Some of the impacts on the legal profession include:
1. Force Majeure. COVID-19 disrupted many businesses and contracts. As a result, parties have tried to use COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid contractual obligations. Application of defenses to contract enforcement have risen significantly including whether and to what extent force majeure clauses in contracts contemplate(d) COVID-19 as an excuse to performance and whether or to what extent a party to a contract was required to take reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
2. Deceptive Trade Practices. The pandemic has resulted in an increase in false and misleading claims with respect to the diagnosis, treatment, cure and/or prevention of COVID-19 and related illnesses. Many companies have been sued and class actions have been filed over promises made to consumers with respect to the effectiveness of sanitizer and masks.
3. Business Interruption. COVID-19 resulted in hundreds of thousands of businesses having to close their doors. As a result, businesses failed to generate income sufficient to operate. Many of these businesses filed claims with their insurers. Many of those insurers denied those claims. Many of these businesses had what is called “all risk” policies and policies that contained provisions involving actions of civil or military authority that impacts a business. Hundreds of lawsuits seeking guidance and coverage have been filed as a result of the truly unique COVID-19 experience.
4. Safe Work Environment. One area that is likely to remain after COVID is changes made at businesses regarding work-place safety. Also, new businesses have developed around this topic. Employers must be more cognizant than ever of safety in the workplace to avoid potential liability.