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Need endorphins-by-proxy? Join top Californian skiers in Blizzard, via adventure films you can stream at home

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.

Lawyers warn employers could face legal claims after lockdown eases

Members of staff working between two-metre wide designated work stations on a car assembly line at the Vauxhall car factory during preparedness tests and redesign ahead of re-opening following the COVID-19 outbreak. Located in Ellesmere Port, Wirral, the factory opened in 1962 and currently employs around 1100 workers. It ceased production on 17 March 2020 and will only resume work upon the advice of the UK Government, which will involve stringent physical distancing measures being in place across the site. (Photo by Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images)
© Colin McPherson/Corbis/Getty Images

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.”

Data security flaw exposes thousands of legal documents

Data centre
© Erik Isakson/Getty

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.”

Why the courts are standing between me and a decent haircut

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 01: Demonstrators gather outside of the Thompson Center to protest restrictions instituted by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker in an attempt to curtail the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 on May 01, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Although some restrictions were eased today, the state is currently on a "stay at home" order mandated until May 30. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
© Getty

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.”

UK regulator to seek court ruling on business interruption insurance

General view of a deserted Camden High Street, in north London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday April 29, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
© PA

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.”

Tax tribunal struggling to cope with remote hearings, lawyers say

A pedestrian walks past the headquarters of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in central London February 13, 2015. British lawmakers plan to call up the bosses of HSBC and the tax authority, HMRC, to quiz them over allegations some clients of HSBC's Swiss private bank evaded tax.     REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS CRIME LAW) - LM1EB2D127201
© Reuters

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.”

Closing argument

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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