LEGAL FRATERNITY AND COVID
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Time is dynamic; it never stops for anyone. It is the nature of the universe that it does not stop. The pandemic situation of COVID has opened an innovative gateway for advancement in communication technology. It has significantly enhanced the importance and use of digitalization all over the world. Moreover, it made digitalization of the courts and proceedings possible, which is indeed the best possible solution to the current issue of corona threat.
It has evolved the whole legal fraternity drastically. The use of physical documents is now discouraged. It is essential because it not only saves paper but also helps to check the spread of COVID virus. The use of technology has gained new significance, especially where the law firms had to shut down their offices.
The reforms are being approved rapidly throughout the legal fraternity. Most of the legal formalities are being made paperless. It is going to aid in the sustainable development of a paperless economy. The digitalization in the legal fraternity was welcomed by many lordships like Hon'ble justice Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Hon'ble justice L Nageswara Rao etc. Furthermore, with new developments, there were many challenges. It would be wrong to envisage the financial turmoil and economic collapse. It is going to alter the working of the legal fraternity at a significant level.
The Supreme Court also laid down the guidelines concerning the functioning of courts via video conferencing through a suo moto case titled In Re: Guidelines For Court Functioning Through Video Conferencing. During Covid-19 Pandemic have directed NIC officials to assist High Courts with the setup of infrastructure to handle hearings via video conferencing.
The bench constituting of Hon'ble Chief Justice S.A. Bobde,Justice D.Y. Chandrachud , His Lordship Hon'ble Mr. and His Lordship Hon'ble Mr. L Nageswara Rao observed that:
“Access to justice is fundamental to maintain the Rule of Law in the democracy envisioned by the Constitution of India. The challenges introduced by the outbreak of COVID-19 have to be addressed. While preserving the constitutional commitment to ensuring the delivery of and access to justice to those who seek it. It is important to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines issued from time to time by various health authorities, States and Government of India. Court hearings in the congregation must inevitably become an exception during this period.”
The current crisis proves the fact that the Judiciary is effectively equipped with ample of ways to act in any time or any hour of need. This Pandemic situation has also encouraged us to exterminate old practices and operate digital effectively.
The devotion of the Judiciary to protect the rule of law is highly commendable. The acceptance of technology to carry out this idea and safeguard the legal framework in India from a malfunction so, that no person approaching the courts for justice will go silent is highly appreciated. The Indian Judiciary has demonstrated to be an institution of absolute importance for the nation.
This shift in working is going to make things a lot safer. It has been observed that every court is adapting to the new normal as stated by the government. It is challenging to state whether this would have a positive or negative impact on the justice delivery system. India is a highly populated country, and people must have faith in the Judiciary. So it is vital to maintain that trust of the society on the rights implementing agency.
Due to the COVID spread, many people will require legal assistance, for the issues concerning with lost employment, insurance claims, evictions, and family emergencies.Furthermore, Many of the independent lawyers have started online consultations for clients and also have been increasingly using the E- Contracts. Furthermore, we can expect many changes in the legal fraternity in the near upcoming future.
Law firms and Individual lawyers might take a hit on the road ahead. Litigation and Non- Contentious is expected to bound to increase post-COVID steadily. It can be seen that the rising volume of work could not match the expectation and receipt of revenue. The management of law firms has to consider restructuring to the balance of interests of the stakeholders. Furthermore, there are a large number of daily earners in our legal fraternity who are required to work continuously to generate sufficient income. Moreover, in these challenging times of lockdown and social distancing, the daily earners are the ultimate sufferers in terms of their financial dependency.
It can be seen that digitalization is spreading quickly in this pandemic situation as a measure for social distancing. Hence, it is a crucial time when the Indian Judiciary must introduce technology in its daily hearing.
The current trend to boycott china made product proposes a good chance for Indian as well as non-Chinese companies to expend in India which will increase the demand of legal experts and requirement of Legal Industry as a whole. Thus, leading to a boost in the business of Legal fraternity. Indian Legal Fraternity is all set to welcome the businesses which are associated with such expansions.
Another unique aspect of this situation is that work from home is going to be encouraged or, will become a positive spinoff of COVID. Work from home was already existing in India, but not much attention was put in it. Work from home in India up till this outbreak has mostly considered as just a part-time job like freelancer. Work from home as a full-time job has not been given much importance. Government is taking this as an occasion to promote work from home in various sectors.
Work from home will represent several benefits which may include cost-saving, decongesting roads, controlling pollution, etc. This would enhance the existing livable environment. This also removes few restrictions based on normal working like fixed working hours for women, intellectual property rights, etc.
Because of COVID outbreak, many of the migrant workers have left their work and have returned to their native place. Due to this, they would be left unemployed, so, they would require employment in their native place. Therefore, many of the talents and human resource would be left unemployed until proper measures are taken to employ them locally. As Corporate Social Responsibility, the companies are encoraged to employ locals, and as a result of this employment can be boosted in those particular regions.
Law changes with the need of society, it is dynamic. So, it is needed to be reviewed with a change in society. There are several legislations which requires amendment as per the changes and requirements of the society. These amendments will help to align with the perceived changes in the economic and legal framework.
The current situation has been unpredictable, but it is evident there is going to be a considerable increase in demand for the legal fraternity and the business. So, the litigants should be ready to cope up with the adjustments to keep up with what the society and conditions demands. This also proves that law and legal practitioners are flexible in nature. The changes in the functioning of litigation are evident enough, and further changes can also be expected.
Work from home is more likely to be enhanced and should be a significant point of focus.
Digitalization in the legal fraternity is going to have a substantial positive impact as a whole. The Digitalization is about to open new dimensions to this pandemic situation. It is going to increase productivity and communication. In some aspect, it is going to help in cutting down the cost incurred in our daily life. Post-COVID is going to bring a lot of new business opportunities in India due to china expulsion.
Furthermore, the injustice in the world is never going to stop. So, does the requirement of the legal fraternity in the world to solve such injustice will never stop. A new condition brings out a new innovative solution. The world has never stopped and will not stop people will get habituated with the new normal with time.
~Manas Ranjan Padhi
4th Year, BA LLB(H), Amity Law School,
Amity University Chhattisgarh