Kashish Wasal: Effect of Corona Virus on the Legal Structure

In December 2019, while we were celebrating the start of a new chapter of our life as 2020 came closer, there was an outbreak of a Global Pandemic that brought the world to its knees. It originated in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China that led to a huge impact on the psychological, behavioural, social and economic changes. 

Corona Virus has been compared to The Great Economic depression (1929-1939) which was a period of devastating economic decline and was known as one of the biggest financial crisis of the world. A Columbia professor termed it as a “Heart attack” while the Corona Virus is termed as a “Whole body seizure”.

The corona virus has already infected 4.5 million of the world’s population and killed 0.32 million people. It is most likely to take a toll on the mental health of billions. It may cause stress, anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTA) says the slowdown in the global economy caused by the virus is to cost $1 trillion in terms of reduced growth measured in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 alone.

The international labour organisation (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, has been monitoring the global impact.

ILO director general Guy Ryder said “Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies.” “We have to move fast, decisively, and together…” The ILO says it is “the most severe crisis” since World War Two.  

Due to the corona virus restrictions and the imposition of the mandatory lockdown, many industries have been severely hit while there is a loss in employment for 8 in 10 workers and almost 6 in 10 workers in rural areas in India.

One such industry that has been affected majorly is the Legal industry as a large part of it consists of physical interaction i.e. litigation, meeting the clients, depositions, mergers, acquisitions and drawing of contracts. 

Criminal defense attorney Samantha Greene from Sevens legal believes that during the current situation the objective is “to protect what you have, it is not the time to sell.” 

The coronavirus plays an important role in humanizing the profession where the concept of winning and gaining profit is deep rooted. It is a period of introspection and teaches us how vulnerable we actually are.

The Government of India and the state governments have invoked several advisories to control and reduce the effects of  the corona outbreak.

On march 11th 2020, the Indian Government issued an order under section 69 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to enhance the preparedness and containment of Covid-19. This order came into effect from 17 January 2020. It gives provisions for the government to allocate resources for prevention, mitigation  etc .

”The Disaster Management Act, 2005  gives freedom to the government to take decisions and spend money from the Disaster Relief Fund and empowers district magistrates with wide powers for requisition resources,” said Rajeev Sadanandan, former additional chief secretary of  Kerala. 

The Modi government also ordered the states to implement the Epidemic Disease Act, 1857 on the same day. This law was invoked by the Indian states to implement measures like mandatory screening and quarantine which are important to prevent infections. Anyone breaching the law can face prosecution, including imprisonment up to six months.

On march 5, 2020 the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare advised that mass gatherings may be avoided or possibly postponed till the outbreak is contained.

Throughout the world, lawyers and legal counsels have suffered through a great loss. This is due to delayed payments made by clients and companies and not due to the lack of demand of these professionals. There is still a rising need for legal professionals during and after the outbreak. Thus, In order for the  law firms to get to the light out of this very dark tunnel, certain measures need to be taken. They have to keep up with the technologically driven world.  All in- person  meetings should be replaced with e-conferencing virtual systems. The communication links between the lawyers and their clients should be improved so everyone is in a loop regarding the legal problems they may face during the pandemic. There should also be development in the tech system so attorney – client  confidentiality can be maintained also in such a situation. The firms have to deal with the anxiety and panic  of their clients and have to maintain peace amongst them.

Works Cited


Impact of coronavirus on global law firms


Kashish Wasal is an Assistant Manager of the Queen Mary Pro Bono Society’s Equality and Leadership department

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