So what impact has COVID-19 had?
The number of disputes is likely to increase during the crisis. This is often the case for shareholder disputes in periods of distress in otherwise good business relationships, as well as in periods of prolonged time spent at home on the family dispute side. It has been reported that divorce filings in China have been rising since couples emerged from quarantine in March, and it is possible that the UK will see the same results when lockdown is lifted.
COVID-19 could see some on-going disputes being settled more quickly than previously. With many issues, both personal and business, impacting individuals during this time, this could lead to parties seeking to resolve disputes more quickly in order to avoid further legal costs as well as the burden on their time. However, for many who have been in an on-going dispute for some time, they are not likely to give up the debate and accept a potentially worse outcome due to the pandemic, and therefore for those parties the pace and process of settlement may be relatively unaffected.
Valuation for shares and assets being the subject of family or shareholder disputes, are likely to face increased complications due to the decline in the global stock market and the number of businesses that are struggling to survive. Parties looking for a higher valuation would argue that any impact on their shares or assets is temporary and in the longer-term will return to the status quo pre COVID-19. However, those looking to argue a lower valuation would focus on the detrimental bearing of the crisis on the current valuation with an uncertain future outlook to boot.