School of Law

Covid-19 Research

At the forefront of legal research, we have a wealth of expertise covering research areas associated with Covid-19.

Covid-19 and commercial law

We are proud to showcase research projects currently being undertaken by staff members of the University of Nottingham Commercial Law Centre in relation to Covid-19 and commercial law.

Professor Irit Mevorach, Dr Sandra Frisby, Dr Reza Beheshti, Dr Orsolya Toth and Dr Marianthi Pappa present projects on international commercial arbitration, dispute resolution, oil and gas, and insolvency.


Dr Reza Beheshti

Dr Reza Beheshti

Reza Beheshti's research project concerns the impact of natural disasters such as the Covid-19 pandemic on the emergence and development of flexible dispute resolution mechanisms.

The disruption and damage of this pandemic are likely to be aggravated when contracting parties invoke default clauses and counterparties claim that they are excused from performance. International contracts with potentially various applicable laws may disrupt significantly supply chains of goods. As such, there has been significant impulse amongst legal community on how to shift from conventional method of resolving commercial disputes to a more flexible method that can efficiently and conveniently be used during lockdowns.

It is questionable whether the alternative mechanisms can satisfy the fundamental principles of justice and fairness in turbulent times. Therefore, there is an urgent need to come up with a coherent and persuasive analysis that determine the pros and cons of such mechanisms so that more robust actions shall be prompted in near future. Dr Beheshti’s work will particularly focus on procedural effectiveness of mediation and conciliation in commercial disputes.


Dr Sandra Frisby Professor Irit Mevorach

Dr Sandra Frisby and Professor Irit Mevorach

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on national economies and the global economy has been widely documented, and one aspect of this is the likelihood that companies will fall into insolvency as a direct or indirect result of the pandemic.

National governments (and supra-national institutions) have formulated strategies to assist companies through the course of the pandemic in the hope of minimising both the numbers of insolvencies and the economic and social damage generated as a result. It is expected the SMEs will be particularly badly affected in this context.

Tracking the impact of the pandemic on the volume of corporate insolvencies in the UK is a relatively straightforward starting point for this research. Sectoral impact can be illustrated, as can the extent to which employment is lost as a result of corporate insolvencies.

However, the research by Professor Mevorach and Dr Frisby will take a much longer-term view, and will examine how insolvency professionals use existing insolvency strategies and Covid-generated government initiatives during the pandemic, and to what effect.

Reports produced by insolvency professionals will be scrutinised to this end, and outcomes will be tracked into the medium term. Innovative practice will be examined to gauge how practitioners are responding to the crisis, and whether such innovations might map well onto the post-Covid commercial landscape.


Professor John JacksonDr Candida Saunders

Professor John Jackson and Dr Candida Saunders

As part of their Nuffield-funded project on "Mapping the Changing Face of Cross-Examination in Criminal Trials", John Jackson and Candida Saunders, along with their research colleagues Jonathan Doak and David Wright from NTU, will be monitoring the way in which the Covid-19 emergency is affecting trial procedure and evidence in the criminal courts across the jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 makes provision in England and Wales and Northern Ireland for the expanded use of pre-recorded (video, audio, and written) evidence to be admitted in criminal trials and for increased use of live links for witnesses to testify 'live' at trial but from another location.

Although existing legislation provides for witnesses to be examined and cross-examined in this manner in certain limited circumstances, there is now the potential for entire trials to take place remotely. Similar changes are expected in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. This greatly alters the face-to-face way in which witnesses have traditionally been examined.

The researchers will be considering how this 'new normal' develops and charting the tensions and teething problems that judges and advocates will have to deal with whilst still ensuring that the foundational principles and basic tenets of criminal justice are secured.


Dr Vicky Kemp

Dr Vicky Kemp

Dr Vicky Kemp has 30 years' experience of studying criminal legal aid and police station legal advice. With her research identifying potential barriers for suspects in accessing free and independent legal advice, as required by legislation, it is not surprising that a number of problems have arisen during this pandemic.

The main concern was over the police requiring legal advisers to provide face-to-face advice when it was not safe to do so. The police, CPS and defence practitioners agreed a national protocol, setting out appropriate steps to be taken, which includes providing remote legal advice. While this has been helpful in some areas, it is ignored in others. This is leading to legal advisers risking their lives when attending clients in custody to provide advice, without hand wipes, sanitisers, face masks or other protective equipment.

In her blog, Coronavirus and the dangers of providing police station legal advice in England and Wales, Dr Kemp commented on some of the key issues arising, which attracted over 52,000 views on Twitter. These key issues have been reported to the Home Office PACE Strategy Board, which oversees legislation relating to the detention and questioning of suspects.

As the pandemic continues, Dr Kemp is examining how this impacting on the legal rights of children drawn into the criminal justice system, and she will be exploring how digital technology could provide assistance at this difficult time.


Jeff Kenner

Professor Jeff Kenner

Professor Kenner is conducting research on the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market and employment rights in the European context. In particular, as the Covid-19 pandemic engulfs the world, millions have lost their jobs or are on reduced incomes. Many "key workers" are being expected to work in dangerous conditions without the protection they need against the virus. There is a danger that Governments, faced with mounting public deficits, will react by reducing labour standards and social security support leading to more insecurity in employment especially for the most precarious workers.

In the UK, there is the backdrop of the outstanding post-Brexit trade negotiations between the EU and UK. Professor Kenner has published a blog post in Regulating for Globalization on the combined implications of Brexit and Covid-19 for the UK and the European economies and explains why the issue of labour standards is central to resolving the deadlock between the parties. It has also been published in Italian as a guest editorial in the leading employment law journal: Diritti, Lavori Mercati.


Dr Marianthi Pappa

Dr Marianthi Pappa

Dr Marianthi Pappa examines contemporary challenges, such as Covid-19, for the oil and gas sector. The suspension of commercial activities due to mandatory lockdowns and personnel quarantines, combined with the travel restrictions across the world reduced fossil fuel demands. Along with production levels, the price of oil has dramatically dropped, with US crude crashing at minus $37/barrel on 20 April 2020. This uncertainty could bring oil industry in survival mode.

On the other hand, the pandemic could act as a catalyst to energy transition. A decline of pollution markers (such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide) has been observed over big cities and in rivers, lakes, and seas. Some argue that the preservation of fossil reduction after the pandemic (with the alternatives of remote working, home delivery of goods, domestic travel, and online conduct of meetings or conferences) along with the swift to renewable resources should be the new normal.

This change of dynamics in the energy sector affects the reputation and acceptability of oil companies. Can petroleum industry survive that challenge? Dr Pappa explores this new era for oil and the lessons to be learned for the future.


Dr Christy Shucksmith -Wesley

Dr Christy Shucksmith-Wesley

Dr Christy Shucksmith-Wesley is a public international lawyer who specialises in international disaster law in health emergencies, including the provision of humanitarian protection and assistance therein. She is known internationally for her work on the mandate of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in conflict and disaster situations.

Christy's forthcoming monograph examines 'Health and Disasters: International Law and Disaster Risk Reduction' and includes analysis of pandemics.

In relation to Covid-19, she can comment on how international commitments made by States at global conferences translate into practice on the ground within States, including in relation to Covid-19.


Professor Nigel D. White

Professor Nigel D. White

An aspect of Professor Nigel White's current research focuses on legal aspects of civil-military relations. In times of domestic crises and threats what's known as Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) assumes greater importance. Such military aid has been seen in the recent past in relation to terrorist attacks and in providing security at the Olympics in London in 2012.

In the response to Covid-19, 20,000 military personnel forming the Covid Support Force (CSF) have been put on stand-by to support the civil powers including the police. The legal basis of such deployments is a mixture of legislation granting the executive emergency powers plus residual prerogative powers belonging the government ministers. The powers are extremely wide and will raise issues of accountability for their use in the current crisis including the deployment of troops to perform various tasks.



The Public Procurement Research Group

The Public Procurement Research Group

The Public Procurement Research Group is currently leading real-time research on the Covid-19 pandemic. Public procurement has come under intense scrutiny during the crisis. Across the world, governments have been unable to procure sufficient quantities of personal protective equipment and testing kits. Some suppliers have charged extortionate prices whilst others have not been given opportunities to meet demand.

There have been many opportunities for fraud, with a number of countries paying for medical equipment that never arrives or is sub-standard, and the lack of transparency that is inevitable with some emergency procurement creates an environment in which corruption can thrive. The pandemic has also revealed the limits of the state and the challenges of international cooperation through mechanisms such as the EU Joint Procurement Agreement on medical countermeasures, for example.

The Public Procurement Law Review, which is edited by the Public Procurement Research Group, has assembled world-leading academics and practitioners to debate the issues in a forthcoming special edition.

Building on this, the Group is also producing an edited collection which will evaluate the adequacy of both existing regulatory frameworks and new regulatory responses at both international and national level. Drawing on case studies from across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, the book will assess the role and potential of regulated public procurement in addressing a defining event of our age.



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