Covid 19

March 2020

Covid-19: Legal
Synopsis

The
recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus has caused disruption across the world
and Kenya is no exception. Containment measures, including lockdowns of cities,
extensions of public holidays, closures of public services (e.g. courts),
cancellation of events, unprecedented “work from home” arrangements,
international travel restrictions and quarantine measures are having worldwide
impacts.

In
light of the foregoing there is need to undertake a legal synopsis of International
policy intervention, specific  Government
policy(country –country policies),international trade and commerce and the
overall effect of Covid 19 at a country level with an eye on the global effect
of Covid 19.,

Towards
this end its critical for legal practitioners to take note of the following in
mitigation of the emerging legal effects caused by Covid 19.The key
Identifiable issues during this pandemic are;-

  • Succession and Crisis management: review existing policies and ensure key employees and management are familiar with them. Who has authority to make immediate decisions with respect to the crisis? Develop a consistent and effective communication plan.

  •  Employment issues: employers generally owe a duty to ensure that reasonable care is taken to safeguard the health and safety of employees at work. Review and assess what changes may be necessary or appropriate for your HR policies, such as absenteeism, leave, flexible work and overseas travel.

  • Business
    continuity: are you prepared for the possible implications on the business of
    travel restrictions and quarantines? How will you keep the business operating
    on skeleton staff, or will you have to shut up shop? For example, businesses in
    the retail and hospitality industries may be particularly affected by a lack of
    customers and staff in the event of widespread quarantine arrangements.

  • Dispute
    resolution: any event that leads to public disruption can be a fertile breeding
    ground for disputes to arise. Consider carefully commercial contract terms,
    including force majeure and notice requirements, and be alert to inadvertently
    agreeing to a contractual variation/waiver.

  • Communication
    is key: clear communications will be needed with key stakeholders as to the
    impact of the spread of coronavirus on the business. Investors, customers,
    suppliers, and staff will all need to be informed about how the business is
    dealing with the issue and what it means for them.

  • Listed
    companies need to bear in mind disclosure obligations: a material disruption to
    the company’s business; material impairment of business performance or outlook;
    a material change in the company’s business plan; or a pending transaction
    likely to be cancelled or delayed as a result of the outbreak might all
    necessitate an announcement.

  • Financial
    reporting: companies need to consider whether to refer to the possible impact
    of COVID-19 on their business in their reporting of principal risks and
    uncertainties, and, potentially, in the carrying value of assets and
    liabilities and should ensure that they provide up-to-date and meaningful
    disclosure.    Capital markets and loan
    financing: issuers or underwriters working on international offerings may need
    to consider the impact on: diligence and disclosure, consents, approvals,
    termination and settlement dates.

  • Government
    Action on Covid 19 and attendant consequences of government intervention both
    on Legislation touching on taxation, safety protocols, trade and commerce,

Special acknowledgement to linklaters.

Dennis Kirwa Advocate