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The Covid-19 pandemic is already triggering many disputes. For example, in the US, Federal District Court case filings have increased nearly threefold from the same period last year.[1] This article considers the types of disputes arising in each industry sector, and what we might expect to see in courts and arbitral tribunals in the coming months and years.

Dispute forecasting is not an exact science, but there are useful indicators. Countries which emerged early from the first wave of the crisis – such as China, Italy and Spain – reveal the kind of litigation that might be expected for countries at a later stage of the curve. Even countries with a later infection peak can throw light on trends, such as in the US where class actions tend to be filed faster than in other systems.

There are also historical precedents. The SARS outbreak in 2003 generated types of disputes which are likely to re-emerge. More recently, the disputes arising from the financial crisis in 2008 give some idea of what to expect from a global economic downturn. These are discussed below.

However, there are important differences. Litigation that emerges in one legal system may not translate to another. SARS infected only around 8,000 people, and was focused on China, Hong Kong, and a handful of other countries such as Canada. Disputes from the financial crisis have kept lawyers busy for over a decade but that crisis had a different cause and a less direct human impact.

 

This article first appeared on the website of the Litigation Committee of the Legal Practice Division of the International Bar Association, and is reproduced by kind permission of the International Bar Association, London, UK. © International Bar Association.

Author

Claudia is a partner at Baker McKenzie. Since 2010, she heads the Dispute Resolution practice in Colombia. In 2018, she started leading the practice in Latin America and is currently the Global Chair of the Firm's Dispute Resolution Group. Claudia is the Chair of the Arbitration and ADR Commission of ICC in Colombia. She is also a listed arbitrator of the panel of arbitrators of the Center of Arbitration of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá for both, domestic and international arbitration; and a listed arbitrator of the Panel of Arbitrators of the Shanghai International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (Shanghai International Arbitration Center). Claudia is a highly-regarded expert in transnational litigation and international arbitration. She has over 20 years of extensive experience handling complex litigations and arbitrations related to construction and infrastructure projects, post-acquisition disputes, disputes in the energy sector, distribution and supply agreements, unfair competition, product liability, insolvency and general breach of contract. Claudia has been ranked by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 as an expert in the field of dispute resolution. According to these publications, the group led by Claudia "'generates absolute confidence’ according to clients who highlight the team’s ‘efficiency, agility and commitment’, ‘broad market knowledge’, and ‘careful follow-up of cases", pointing that "It is led by the ‘expert’ and ‘deeply involved’ Claudia Benavides whose ‘intelligence, diligence and acuity to foresee legal risks’, make her a stand out legal adviser.” Chambers and Partners Latin America notes that "Claudia Ines Benavides Galvis is praised by interviewees for her "wide knowledge of the area, precision and in-depth background" in the field of dispute resolution." She has been ranked Band 2 in Chambers & Partners' individual ranking and in the "Leading Lawyer" listing by The Legal 500. The prestigious publication Who's Who Legal: Arbitration describes her as one of the world experts in arbitration and Benchmark Litigation featured her in the Top 25 Latam Women in Litigation listing. The team led by Claudia is ranked Tier 1 in the prestigious directory The Legal 500. Claudia has been actively involved with academia. She regularly speaks in important national and international conferences and she is the author of several articles related to her practice.

Author

Benjamin Roe is a Lead Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie London office.