What Can Businesses Expect From A Second Wave?

What Can Businesses Expect From A Second Wave?

A few weeks ago, F-Lex was delighted to welcome Ehsan Haque and Daniel Morgan as guest speakers at their Virtual GC Session in collaboration with LexisNexis and Radius Law. Ehsan is the Global Head of Legal and Compliance at Hamilton Capital, and Daniel is Managing Partner at Haines Watts. The topic for the call surrounded the second wave of COVID-19 and its potential impacts on businesses. Some excellent insights were shared by the speakers, which I have summarised below.

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Business Risks and Trends

  • Disputes

A similar trend of concerns is being predicted for businesses facing a second lockdown as we saw with the first. These centre mainly around reviewing contractual obligations, force majeure clauses and dispute resolution options. With so many businesses going through their agreements with a fine-tooth comb, a rise in third party litigation funding is also being anticipated. Having worked through 2008 for comparison, Ehsan highlighted the magnitude of disruption the pandemic is causing: “Global supply chains have completely disappeared. People are looking at their situations and thinking, ordinarily I would honour the contract, but this isn’t feasible in my current situation.”

  • Disconnection

Culturally, Ehsan says Hamilton Capital is lucky because its teams are going into the office five days a week. This allows for high levels of interaction and collaboration, and for any new starters to become integrated quickly. However, with a second lockdown looming, this team dynamic looks soon to revert back to remote working. With this comes issues that many workers are now fully aware of: missing out on informal catch-ups with colleagues, difficulty compart-mentalising work time and personal time, and mental well-being. For tips on how to manage these issues as a manager, click here.

A Financial Perspective

  • Taking control

Daniel has worked closely with clients to forecast and strategise for various outcomes and pressures resulting from the pandemic. At the beginning of lockdown, this took the form of motivating clients and convincing them that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Moving forward, Daniel then worked with clients to produce tiered cash-flow forecasts: good, reasonable and worst case. With lockdown lifting in the summer, this led to some companies relaxing and taking a more positive outlook on their situations. However, Daniel suggests this is pivoting rapidly as new measures are announced by the government, and clients are looking to manage their risks more closely: “Building a cash reserve is really key. The concern is if there isn’t government support again, there could be a struggle for businesses getting that cash in from clients and customers.”

  • Better prepared

On a more positive note, the rapid adaptation of businesses to the first lockdown cannot be overlooked. In the hospitality sector, pubs and restaurants quickly implemented takeaway services. Retailers switched to online sales, and remote working was accepted as the new normal without too many issues. As Daniel states: “During the first lockdown, companies were very resilient in coming up with new revenue streams. A lot of businesses will be far better prepared for the second spike and will have processes in place to mitigate the impact as much as possible.”

A huge thank you also to Iain Larkins and Sandra Martins for sharing updates on commercial and employment issues, respectively.

Join us on Wednesday 11th November where we focus on Modern Slavery and discuss the role of General Counsel in fighting it. This is not only a moral obligation it is a regulatory obligation.

First published on F-Lex 22 May 2020:  here

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About the author:

Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices. 

As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers.  These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK.  She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors. 

She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.  

Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.