The outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has affected many areas of business, and the legal implications extend far beyond the obvious sectors such as tourism and employment law. Click here to look at our publications for a range of insights on the impact of the pandemic if it continues to spread.

Here are eight areas affected by the virus that we discuss in the linked publications:

  • Insurance: claims under business interruption policies will arise, and, like all areas below, the interpretation of force majeure clauses will have to be examined. Life insurance and travel insurance claims will increase.
  • Construction and projects: Delays due to labour shortages or disruption of the supply chain will lead to contractual disputes and implicate related project finance contracts.
  • Trade Finance: questions around how the underlying sale contract allocates risk when the sold commodity is either not delivered, or delivery is delayed, on account of the virus, will arise.
  • Shipping: Port restrictions will lead to delays and business interruption. The lack of cover for some outcomes, and the potential for unlimited exposure is a concern.
  • Aviation: Demand for flights will decrease, and liability issues will arise.
  • Food and agribusiness: Food shortages will occur, as a result of interruptions in the supply chain and labour shortages.
  • Labour law: Workplace policies relating to sick leave, quarantining or barring potentially infected employees from entering the workplace or from travelling, and remote working arrangements, are a few of the areas that will have to be looked at. Security and liability issues will arise.
  • Medical law: Plans for the safe and efficient management of potential and known cases must be in place to protect society and to avert liability.
  • Protection of personal information: Concerns over privacy and data protection have already arisen globally, for example with regard to information on persons who have travelled to areas where the virus is known to have been present.

Above all, the respect for human dignity must prevail. Discrimination against people thought or known to be infected should be guarded against. Balancing the protection of society against the rights of infected and potentially infected persons is a priority.

If your business has a global aspect, a risk assessment of the various areas that will be affected by the virus should be done urgently. Local business should also start considering the impact of the virus on them, in case of possible spread of COVID-19 to South Africa, and also due to the potential for business interruption caused by disruptions to the global economy.


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