What opportunities the coronavirus crisis presents, which lawyers won’t be out of work, and how online dispute resolution will affect litigation.
The importance of electronic document management
Electronic document management helps with travel restrictions and the psychological fear of leaving home and negotiating offline. For electronic document exchange, it is important to obtain the counterparty’s consent and to be sure that you are contacting him and not someone else. Keep proof of such exchange, take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of important correspondence.
About online processes
There is no rule in either the draft laws or the current system that requires a lawyer to participate in an online meeting. It’s up to him to make his own decision. And now the courts do not refuse to postpone proceedings if a lawyer is unable to attend due to restrictions. More often than not, virtual attendance will be enough if the documents are prepared and submitted correctly.
Even in criminal proceedings, where contact with the court and convincing the defendant of remorse is important, there is often a place for video courts. For example, in matters that require an urgent decision, in cases in a special order. But there will also be situations in which a hearing cannot be held online. For example, if there is a need to review the original documents in the process. And there are a lot of such nuances. But the main idea is still that participation in the meeting via video link is a right, not an obligation.
About unusual evidence
Courts are not bad about “unusual” evidence. An example of this is aerial and satellite imagery of land or real estate. It is provided in disputes over rights to real estate as evidence of the year in which certain changes related to self-building or illegal use of the land took place. This is specific evidence, but the courts accepted it. Also, nowadays screenshots and reviewing social network pages, that confirm certain circumstances, are customary.
Judges are extremely conservative people. I think this is a good thing. If they were hungry for innovation, the judicial system would lose stability. That being said, the law is subject to formal logic. And if “something” is logical in terms of morality, ethics and does not contradict the law, the court is often guided by the principle “what is not forbidden is allowed”. And if you justify to the judge the relevance of non-standard evidence, its reliability, and admissibility, there will be no problems.
On the prospects for the legal profession
We expect growth from our bankruptcy practice. This is not only due to the bankruptcy moratorium because it does not affect a very large number of organizations. And even in the affected areas, it does not affect everyone. Many more companies have financial problems today.
The problem for lawyers is not the decline of any particular industry, but the decline in the solvency of clients. This is confirmed by publications in the media. Expenses for legal services (www.awsuwaidi-advocates.com) are not a priority. In the overall list of costs, they come after salaries and taxes anyway. So they are already starting to save on lawyers.
All of us will have to take into account the difficult financial situation of our clients: some will have to give deferred payment, and some simply physically unable to pay for services. The lower the demand for the lawyer itself, the more it will be affected by the problem of the solvency of the client. But the only ones who will be out of work are lawyers who do not know how to work, this is my deep conviction.