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While the pandemic is far from over, it certainly feels as though we have moved into a different phase in recent weeks, not just socially as we cautiously emerge from lockdown, but commercially too.

After a few false dawns in 2020, many businesses are only now able to assess the damage that Covid-19 has wrought and, with millions of employees still furloughed, whether or not they can recover in 2021. For a huge number of companies, legal protection is proving as vital in surviving 2021 as it was for navigating 2020.

Where last year brought us record legal advice call volumes, as both business owners and families desperately sought guidance on their suddenly changed circumstances, 2021 sees the start of the reckoning, as we try to untangle the mess that the storm has left behind. Inevitably, this has already led to legal disputes that we anticipate will result in record numbers of claims, this year.

Whatever the nature of the dispute, between employer and employee, landlord and tenant or supplier and client, the courts and tribunals offer little hope of swift resolution. Already struggling before the pandemic, after years of cuts and underinvestment, they are at breaking-point now, with unprecedented case backlogs and delays to match.

It is little surprise that greater use of mediation is being explored and any alternative means of resolving disputes is being encouraged. In our Alternative dispute revolution article, we discuss the possibility that mediation could be made compulsory in some types of case, but it undoubtedly offers the swiftest route to a resolution for many types of legal action at the moment.

ARAG was quick to find alternative ways of resolving tenancy disputes, when the Coronavirus Act quite suddenly made it illegal for landlords to evict tenants. We recently held a webinar with experts from across the private rental sector to discuss the best options for all parties, given the numbers on either side experiencing serious financial hardship and the huge delays in getting a repossession hearing.

Also much delayed is the Civil Liability Act 2018. It is due to be implemented shortly after we publish this edition of The RAG, but we still have serious concerns about how the process will work and the burden it will place on the innocent accident victims who may have suffered quite significant injuries. As Dave Haynes, Underwriting Director. explains here, ARAG’s motor policies were updated to protect policyholders from the demands the new legislation will place on them, back in 2019.

It seems like such a long time ago, but 2019 was the last time all of us in the insurance industry were able to gather for the BIBA Conference, in Manchester. It came as no surprise that the BIBA team delivered an outstanding alternative conference, last week, despite the technical challenges they had to overcome. It was a shame not to meet up in person, but BIBA was every bit the unmissable event in 2021, as it was before the pandemic.

Whether the legal challenges facing businesses and everyday life are as long anticipated as the Civil Liability Act or as sudden and unexpected as the pandemic, legal expenses insurance providers have always risen to such challenges, and it is at times like these that our policies prove more valuable and popular than ever.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.