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12 May 2020
Existing proceedings in the national courts are inevitably experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Where possible, hearings have been delayed or relocated. However, with many lockdowns extended for the foreseeable future, hearings will still need to be held. As such, many national courts are looking into solutions to these issues, particularly technological ones.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (Public Law 116–136), which was signed into law on 27 March 2020, not only provides fiscal stimulus but also allows for the use of video conferencing in certain judicial matters (Section 15002).(1)
The US courts' website has a page dedicated to the judiciary's preparedness for COVID-19, which is updated frequently and includes a link to various federal courts so that parties can assess the individual steps being taken. The Supreme Court, in keeping with public health precautions recommended in response to COVID-19, postponed all oral arguments currently scheduled for the March and April 2020 sessions and intends to examine the options for rescheduling those cases before the end of the term. The May 2020 session will see the virtual hearing of a limited number of previously postponed cases with justices and counsel participating remotely. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an advisory that it would hold all oral arguments telephonically during the court's May 2020 session. Lower courts, such as the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, have issued numerous administrative orders regarding the administration of justice. One such order encourages judges to conduct proceedings by telephone or video conference where practicable.(2)
For further information on this topic please contact Paul Stothard or Clinton Slogrove at Norton Rose Fulbright by telephone (+971 4 369 6300) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Norton Rose Fulbright website can be accessed at www.nortonrosefulbright.com.
(2) This article focuses on how the courts are reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak. For details on how the American Arbitration Association – International Centre for Dispute Resolution is responding, please see "COVID-19: AAA-ICDR's approach to arbitration".
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