A real estate litigation partner at a leading law firm is warning that the Coronavirus crisis could lead to an 18 month delay in court cases to resolve tenancy disputes.
Andrew Todd, a litigation partner at Eversheds, says Covid-19 will lead to what he calls “an innumerable level of disputes within the property sector” inevitably leading to a backlog tenancy disputes and other issues resolved through the court system.
Instead, he is urging all players in the tenancy and wider property sectors to engage in alternative methods of dispute resolution if they require swift action.
He says that consumers and businesses should of course be allowed to resolve disputes through the courts but in anticipation of a backlog other mechanisms should be used.
“No judge will look favourably on counter-parties bringing claims that could have been resolved through common sense, or failing that, that could have utilised an alternative dispute resolution mechanism available” he says.
These alternatives include landlord and tenant disputes, around break clauses and restriction of performance, which could find resolutions through independent arbitration services or so-called Expert Determination - that is, the appointment of an an independent expert whose decision is binding on both parties.
Todd also believes that with remote working and reliable digital infrastructure now the norm for many businesses, online dispute resolution is likely to be a creative option to be pursued many.
“Short of waiting up to 18 months for a resolution, landowners, developers, tenants and investors should look to these alternative resolution methods to resolve disputes quickly, particularly if the survival of a business depends upon a quick resolution” he advises.