Coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) has changed daily business and personal life in many ways previously unforeseeable. Some have compared the pandemic to wartime. As companies deal with emerging issues, such as prolonged shutdowns, employees working from home, preparing virtual work environments and maintaining core business functions to meet their obligations, inevitably disputes will arise. However, the institutions designed to handle disputes, such as courts and dispute resolution centers have not been immune to COVID-19. Companies should be aware of the impact of COVID-19 on those institutions in order to protect their rights under the relevant jurisdictions laws, regulations and rules. This is particularly important for multinational companies that operate globally and may have claims arising under a multiplicity of laws.
This advisory focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on two of the main institutions that resolve parties’ private disputes: (a) the national court systems, including Japan’s; and (b) commercial arbitration institutions.