Keeping up with the latest legal developments is challenging in the best of times. The pandemic has resulted in a stream of novel legal problems combined with a period of exceptional changes in our laws. Compounding the difficulties, there has also been Brexit: for the first time in more than 40 years, EU law no longer applies in England and Wales. Parliament has been engaged in the process of amending EU legislation to bring it on-shore.
Thankfully, help is at hand in the form of a free-to-access e-book Litigation in the Time of Covid-19, published by the barristers at 4 Stone Buildings, a leading Commercial-Chancery set in Lincoln’s Inn.
The e-book started life as an internal knowledge base of answers to the novel problems that the barristers at 4 Stone Buildings were encountering across their areas of practice during the first national lockdown. Now, two lockdowns later, the e-book is about to enter its 9th edition. It is presented in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format covering 185 topics across a range of practice areas including contract, corporate insolvency, bankruptcy, company, financial services and banking law. The whole of the chambers has been involved in the project and the breadth and depth of coverage is impressive.
The section on contracts walks through the key considerations when advising a client on a pandemic-related problem with a contract, whether you are acting for the alleged contract breaker or the ‘innocent’ party. All of this analysis is derived from first-hand experience gained through recent cases. For example, the commentary on material adverse effect clauses is written by a barrister who appeared last term in Travelport Ltd v WEX  EWHC 2670 (Comm), the latest leading case on the issue.
On corporate and personal insolvency, the e-book unpicks the important parts of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) and the latest insolvency statutory instruments, covering both the permanent changes, such as the new moratorium and restructuring plans, as well as the temporary changes in relation to insolvency proceedings and wrongful trading. The burgeoning body of pandemic judgments on schemes of arrangement are also given attention.
For directors, the e-book tackles the many conflicting considerations which arise in navigating the pandemic, including when to have regard to the interests of creditors. The e-book provides a crucial guide to advising directors in these difficult times. Although the CIGA temporarily suspends the statutory provisions relating to wrongful trading, there has been no relaxation in directors’ duties. This tension and others are considered alongside the practicalities in dealing with the statutory requirements of running a company in a remote environment.
The financial services and banking section consider the challenges for both lenders and borrowers in the volatile economic environment that many businesses are experiencing. Problems arising in mergers and acquisitions, for issuers and trustees, and in the financial markets are also discussed. The Supreme Court decision in the business interruption insurance test case, handed down on 15 January 2021, is presented in an easily digestible format.
On civil procedure, the e-book considers a host of practical problems which have arisen over the last 10 months: adjournments, extensions, service, relief from sanction, limitation periods, the remote giving of evidence and the taking of oaths remotely are all scrutinised. In addition, the e-book contains a detailed practical guide on conducting effective remote hearings and ADR. The e-book is full of tips and recommendations derived from real life encounters over countless cases.
Given the international nature of 4 Stone Buildings’ practice, offshore jurisdictions attract special attention and there are detailed guides analysing the latest developments in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Dubai International Financial Centre.
As Jonathan Crow QC, one of the senior silks at 4 Stone Buildings, says: ‘In such difficult times, we wanted to share our in-house learning with a wider audience. The e-book is designed to make lawyers’ lives easier.’
Download it for free at www.4stonebuildings.com/ebook