England and Wales during COVID-19: keeping the wheels of justice turning

Business and property courts in England and Wales have remained open throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Our expert judiciary and litigation solicitors have adapted to keep the wheels of justice turning.

English law continues to provide businesses with the flexibility, predictability and stability necessary to meet their needs.

English and Welsh solicitors are ready to help keep your business moving in these challenging times

Here you can find out more about the use of English law and the operation of the courts and arbitration centre during the pandemic.

English and Welsh commercial courts during COVID-19

The lord chief justice in England and Wales stated that it’s “of vital importance that the administration of justice does not grind to a halt” during COVID-19.

In March 2020, the judiciary published its Protocol regarding Remote Hearings. This applies to all civil hearings – including trials, applications, and those in which litigants in person are involved – in the County Court, High Court, and Court of Appeal (Civil Division).

The protocol states court hearings should be conducted remotely wherever possible, whilst giving flexibility to judges to decide for individual cases.

The Civil Procedure Rules were also updated to make changes, such as temporarily allowing parties to agree longer extensions of time without the need to seek the consent of the court.

Since the lockdown began, 85% of national and international business disputes in the business and property courts are being concluded remotely using technology.

Commercial court users have reported almost no backlog of cases and that the courts continue to have similar levels of business to previous years.

Virtual hearings at work

The FCA test case

Mishcon de Reya acted for both intervenors in the well-publicised FCA v Arch and others business interruption insurance test case.

Richard Leedham, dispute resolution partner, describes the firm's experiences running an expedited, large-scale trial remotely during the pandemic.

Read more about the FCA test case

The UK Commercial Court’s move to virtual trials

At the beginning of lockdown, Stewarts had the opportunity to lead on the arrangements for and running of the first ever fully virtual trial in the Commercial Court.

Read more about the trial

The legal profession’s response to COVID-19

Legal experts from England and Wales and Ukraine came together to explore English law and how legal links and business between practitioners have developed from both countries.

Watch our English Law Day seminars on:

  • transactions – a $5 billion-dollar question: top cross-border transactional trends and legal developments in post-COVID Ukraine
  • disputes – together with Ukrainian Arbitration Association
  • private client issues – immigration, family and real estate

Legal and business experts from England and Wales and India came together to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the legal sector and how to handle contractual disputes in the UK and Indian jurisdictions.

Find out more about our online events on the response of the courts and legal profession


Read more about how courts have responded internationally during COVID-19:

  • Remote Courts Worldwide – best practice to help the global community of justice workers (judges, lawyers, court officials, litigants, court technologists) to share their experiences of developing remote alternatives to traditional court hearings in physical buildings
  • Virtual Arbitration – recent developments in the law and practice of arbitrating on web-based meeting platforms using online communications technology

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