In this Blog dealing with questions received from our clients through our Ask Teal Service, we look at what we see as the biggest risk and compliance issue that will arise as a result of Coronavirus and the impact it has on law firms.
What do you think the biggest risk and compliance issue will be?
Mistakes, undoubtedly. Staff are going to be feeling under pressure, feeling scared about quite a lot of things; illness, suffering possible bereavements, any financial disruption and the impact on their job that that might have. This could lead to a lack of concentration and staff suffering from mental health issues.
From a risk manager’s point of view, this creates situations where we see things happening such as staff missing deadlines and key dates, then realising that they have done something wrong and not wanting to tell anyone for fear of getting into trouble – this may then lead to further problems such as backdating of documents and similar things. So there is clearly the potential for things to go wrong and for claims to be made against your firm’s professional indemnity insurance.
We think that these issues will likely arise as a result of isolation being experienced by staff and a lack of support from others, a lack of good regular communication with staff members, and from the usual files reviews and supervision dropping away – these are all things that will lead to negligence claims.
One of the challenges that we have in the legal market is that we are already in a hardening market for professional indemnity insurance. It is likely that underwriters will be looking to see what measures law firms have put in place now to combat claims arising from the disruption likely to be caused by Coronavirus to enable them to continue good risk management. This will allow firms to put forward their best case to insurers at the time of renewal.