Trends to watch in 2021 –
Disputes: accelerated transformation
COVID-19 combined with a growing acceptance of international practices will continue to shape the Canadian legal landscape, including:
Calls to modernize court rules to facilitate fair, just and speedy resolutions predate the pandemic, and subsequent lockdown measures catalysed widespread technological innovation in dispute resolution.
Going forward, filing practices will continue to shift to online platforms; electronic collection and presentation of evidence will gain more traction; and telephone and video conferencing will shift from a pandemic-related necessity to an established practice in litigation, mediation and arbitration.
COVID-19 has triggered class action lawsuits in numerous sectors, a trend that we expect will continue for the duration of the pandemic and beyond. Key sectors and actions include:
- tort claims of negligence
- consumer protection claims
- supply chain-related breach of contract claims
- claims against insurance companies for declining coverage
- health- and safety-related employment claims
- privacy and data security claims
- challenges against government entities for allegedly "causing harm" or "increasing the risk of harm"
Third-party funding (TPF) is commonplace in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, and we expect to see increased implementation in Canada. Canadian law previously imposed strict limits on opportunities to fund litigation, but has now evolved to provide greater scope, flexibility and sophistication in TPF arrangements.