In this week's Retail & Consumer bulletin, we look at the litigation trends emerging as a result of Covid-19, and the new rules relating to face coverings.
Emerging tech related litigation trends
A rise in tech related issues given the marked increase in importance and reliance of technology to businesses' operations and sales:
- Emerging issues in transformation / technology projects
- COVID-19 has led clients to pause, reshape or accelerate projects depending on strategic need and budgetary factors
- Advice required on:
- variation, suspension or termination of such projects
- obligations to pay milestone payments
- ownership and usage rights in software and/or databases they have helped to develop
- Steps to help protect their position (e.g. responsibility for additional costs, scope requirements or delay)
- Responding to IT supplier's licensing and software audits:
- COVID-19 may have significantly changed a client's use, volume and locations (flexi/remote working) which means that the number of licences, or their terms, may no longer be adequate.
- Relevant to all R&C sector clients who use/deploy software
- Value of software licences (and alleged deficits) can often run into £millions
- Data related issues
- COVID19 has increased the risk profile due to: expansion of remote working; new technologies introduced at speed; increased demand on existing technologies; and reported increase in third party malicious attacks
- Reviewing data management and data breach response policies to ensure still fit for purpose given evolving work protocols
- Responding to Data breaches which are on the rise both as a result of an increase in malicious third party attacks and a higher risk of inadvertent errors by internal
UPDATE: FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED IN SHOPS FROM 24 JULY
- Overview of the new rules
- From 24 July, wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England will be mandatory
- The rules will be enforceable by the police
- Those who do not comply facing fines of up to £100.
- It is already compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in England.
- Exceptions will exist for children under 11 and those with certain disabilities.
- In addition, the rules will not apply to retail staff at work.
- Aside from the intended health benefit the hope is that it will give people confidence to visit retail sites again.
- Retail workers will be encouraged to prompt customers to comply, but will not be expected to enforce the rules.
- Concerns have been raised about the practicalities of enforcing the new regulations.
- How do you deal with customers refusing to wear face coverings?
- Have you set an agreed policy and put guidance in place for staff members dealing with those who refuse?
- How do you deal with concerns of increased violence towards staff?
- Do you make face coverings available for customers who forget to bring one?
- If the supermarket isn't responsible for enforcing customers to wear a face covering, how will the £100 fines be issued in practice?
- Increased customer restrictions are likely to cause tensions and this should be reflected in updated risk assessments
- It will be necessary to consider other control measures in place to mitigate against the risk of violence and to ensure staff safety, e.g. increased security