Duane Morris launch Meals for Healthcare Heroes program

Duane Morris’ Meals for Healthcare Heroes program provided meals for more than 20,000 medical professionals in 16 cities. Duane Morris’ COVID-19 Strategy Team established the initiative, funded by donations from Duane Morris attorneys and staff, to honour healthcare workers and support local restaurants.

The medical facilities and restaurants included:

  • Atlanta: Piedmont Hospital, Kale Me Crazy
  • Austin: St. David’s Medical Center, Rudy’s
  • Baltimore: University of Maryland Medical Center, Miss Shirley’s
  • Boca Raton: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Shake Shack
  • Boston: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Saltie Girl
  • Chicago: Saint Anthony Hospital, Wishbone Chicago
  • Houston: Ben Taub Hospital, Los Tios
  • Los Angeles: Memorial Hospital of Gardena, Panda Express
  • Miami: Doctors Hospital – Baptist Health South Florida, Chick-fil-A
  • Newark: Saint Michael’s Medical Center, SuzyQue’s BBQ & Bar
  • New York: Mount Sinai West, Shake Shack
  • Philadelphia: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Murray’s Deli
  • Pittsburgh: UPMC Shadyside, Market Street Grocery
  • San Diego: Stepping Stone of San Diego, Sisters Pizza
  • San Francisco: Laguna Honda Hospital, West of Pecos
  • Wilmington: ChristianaCare, Olympic Subs and Steaks

About the Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team

The Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team advises clients on all aspects of the legal issues and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic including contractual, employment, insurance and healthcare issues. Duane Morris attorneys are fielding inquiries and providing advice in a wide range of areas, including human resources, travel and transportation, immigration and border entry, hospital and healthcare operations, medical and pharmaceutical supply, FDA, food handling and preparation, OSHA, ADA compliance, data privacy, HIPAA, environmental and EPA, international transactions, shipping, supply chain and logistics, financial reporting, insurance liability, real estate issues, including landlord and tenant matters, and all types of contracts and quasi-contracts. Duane Morris has established a blog dedicated to COVID-19 issues and is distributing Alerts and sharing information via webinars and media interviews.

Evaluating and learning from the pandemic response

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the strengths and exposing the weaknesses of governments, defence, security forces and the private sector in their crisis preparedness and response. In order for future responses to be more robust and resilient, governments will need to understand how these actors collaborate and map leadership priorities.

PwC’s new report, “Evaluating and learning from the pandemic response,” identifies the connections and chains of command that government institutions and private entities need to implement to work effectively against the complex threats of the 21st century. It offers a structured approach to mapping these links between institutions to determine any weaknesses. Contributors to the report include Malcolm Brown, former Deputy Minister of Public Safety in Canada; Sir Craig Mackey, former Deputy Commission of the Metropolitan Police Service in London; and Peter Van Uhm, retired general and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands.

Using PwC’s Security Ecosystem Assessment Map (SEAM) framework, developed by experts in the defence and security fields, leaders can examine the ways in which their organisations must adapt to changing situations and connect with other entities to improve future responses to crises.

George Alders, of PwC’s Global Government Security Sector, says: “The world of police work and the crimes they must tackle is changing and evolving as technology drives new types of crimes and societal behaviours. Amid this transformation, during the COVID-19 pandemic, police are being asked to do even more – enforcing social distancing, restrictions on movement between countries, even the wearing of face masks. In order to meet the challenges of a pandemic and whatever the next new threats may require, police and security services will need to develop more collaborative ways of working to keep citizens safe.”

Terry Weber, of PwC’s Global Government Defence Sector, says: “The response to the COVID-19 pandemic was uncharted territory in many respects and was the ultimate test of trusted institutions to be agile and flexible in the face of immense pressure. Applying a structured approach to evaluating where these institutions succeeded and where they fell short will help all players in the ecosystem continue to respond appropriately to the ongoing crisis and prepare for the next threat, whatever it may be.”

Malcolm Brown, Senior Strategic Advisor, PwC Canada, says: “This pandemic is far from over. Governments will be challenged to meet the needs of citizens as economies re-open, employees return to work, international travel resumes, and health and social care systems reassess their capacities in the face of fluctuating COVID-19 infection rates. The mapping process we’ve developed for identifying what is working well and what is not can help leaders make the right decisions and investments to keep their citizens safe now and be better prepared for the next phase of the pandemic or the next crisis that awaits us.”

Norton Rose Fulbright launches NRF Covid Resolve platform

Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has today launched NRF Covid Resolve, a new online legal framework and process for expedited dispute resolution.

COVID-19 has made it difficult for many companies to perform some of their contractual obligations, giving rise to a high number of corporate disputes, particularly relating to the application of force majeure and change in law provisions.

Commercial contracts usually prescribe formal, lengthy and costly modes of dispute resolution. In the current crisis, the overriding need in many cases is to ‘get back to business’ quickly in a way which is still fair to all parties. ADR is being actively encouraged to avoid a deluge of post-COVID-19 litigations.

At the same time, due to the wider financial impact of the pandemic – particularly in the energy sector with the oil price crash – many in-house legal departments are under pressure to conserve legal spend.

To tackle this challenge, a taskforce of energy and disputes lawyers at Norton Rose Fulbright worked with NRF Transform – the firm’s global change and innovation programme – to develop NRF Covid Resolve. It is a dispute resolution process supported through a single online platform, that aims to achieve an outcome for each dispute within four to six weeks. The process can be used for both disputes between companies, or for disputes between companies within the same group, operating in both civil law and common law jurisdictions. Its fixed price allows users to effectively plan and control their budgets.

Parties may opt for a mediation process only, a mediation process followed by documents only arbitration or an arbitration only. The mediators and arbitrators are selected from a pre-agreed panel of independent sector specialists available through the platform.

Anne Lapierre, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Head of Energy and developer of NRF Covid Resolve, commented: “The energy industry faces unprecedented challenges from COVID-19, compounded by the wider transformation of the sector as it undertakes the essential transition away from fossil fuels. As such, we feel it our duty to come up with practical solutions to help clients get back to what they do best as quickly as possible. Our unique solution to managing the influx of disputes will do exactly that. Taking this product from conception to launch in under two months is an achievement in which our energy and disputes lawyers should take great pride.”

Neil Q Miller, a London-based energy disputes partner, said: “Businesses, governments, judiciary and commentators have all emphasised the need for a different approach to resolve the volume of potential claims arising from COVID-19. Many such disputes are not suited to lengthy, procedurally burdensome and costly traditional dispute resolution methods, with businesses being damaged by the impasse created from managing many live disputes with no way of efficiently resolving them. NRF Covid Resolve allows clients through their legal departments to adopt a fast track process and effectively plan, manage and resolve these claims whilst controlling external legal spend, which is a priority now more than ever.”

David Carter, Chief Product Officer for Norton Rose Fulbright and global lead for NRF Transform, commented: “The impact of COVID-19 meant clients needed a solution rapidly or it would be too late to help. Our outstanding team of NRF Transform product managers, legal designers, business analysts, solutions architects and developers delivered a technical solution matching our lawyers’ vision. Simplicity was key; the intuitive platform is easy to access and navigate.”

The platform will be rolled out first to clients in the energy sector, with plans for the mediator and arbitrator panel to expand over the coming weeks so clients in all sectors can benefit.

Global Top 40 mining companies resilient in face of COVID-19

The global Top 40 mining companies are so far weathering the COVID-19 crisis but should take advantage of relative stability to adopt strategies to mitigate against further economic and social risks, according to PwC’s Mine 2020 report.

PwC’s forecast for 2020 suggests the big miners will take a modest hit to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation & impairment) of approximately 6%. This follows a strong financial performance in 2019 – with revenue up 4% to US$692bn and market capitalisation up 19% to US$898bn (though since reduced to US$752bn on 30 April 2020). On this basis PwC believes the Top 40 are in a strong and resilient position to weather the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Despite this positive outlook, the report cautions that mining companies will need to adapt to long-term impacts caused by COVID-19. Miners may need to think about de-risking critical supply chains and investing more in local communities. A shift towards localisation in supply chains and for smaller deals in local markets, as well as different forms of community engagement, may turn out to be enduring consequences of the pandemic.

Jock O’Callaghan, global leader for mining and metals at PwC, says: ‘In some respects, the mining sector is well-situated in the wake of COVID-19. Mining companies have strong finances and are mostly still operational, albeit with some level of increased precautionary and preventive control.

‘But the longer-term impacts remain uncertain, and ongoing disruption is likely. Top 40 miners should take advantage of their current position of financial stability to revisit their strategies. Doing so will ensure their businesses can enhance their resilience over the long term and meet the demands of the global economy – meeting their aspiration to resource the future.’

A changing outlook for investment & deals

Capital expenditure was up 11% to US$61bn in FY19, according to Mine 2020. PwC expects capital expenditure will slow in 2020, freeing up cash flows, and giving miners the capacity to pay dividends should they choose to do so.

PwC doesn’t expect many mega-deals to take place in 2020 due to increased economic uncertainty and practical constraints of site visits and inspections. However, the current conditions provide opportunities for the Top 40 to capitalise on smaller acquisitions in their local markets.

The enterprise value of mega gold deals totalled US$19.2bn in FY19. Gold deals are not likely to recur to the same size or quantum as in recent years.

Cybersecurity requires attention

Currently just 12% of mining and metals companies’ CEOs are extremely concerned about cyber (down from 21% in FY18 and 14% in FY19). Yet Mine 2020 notes that over a similar period the number of reported cyber breaches among mining companies increase fourfold.

Jock O’Callaghan says: ‘Cybersecurity should be an integral part of the Top 40’s safety and business strategies. Miners should take the opportunity, given their relative resilience, to leverage their strong safety cultures to embed the concept of ‘cyber safety’, which like other forms of safety, is non-negotiable.’

Growing expectations around ESG

Although Mine 2020 has found that most large miners are moving in the right direction on ESG disclosure, some are performing better than others. Only 11 of the Top 40 companies (28%) are setting public ESG commitments and targets, reporting consistently against them, and linking executive and management performance to achieving them.

No one commodity group is outperforming any other. But given rising stakeholder expectations, all Top 40 miners should have moved past the stage of general or variable commitments about ESG.

Jock O’Callaghan says: ‘How should mining come together to take collective ownership of ESG and accept the necessary accountability and transparency that will ensure they are taken seriously? It is time for miners to sit down and work towards a common global standard about what constitutes responsible mining and how companies will report their performance against it.’

COVID-19: Repatriation of foreigners

Due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus, the arrival of foreigners in Brazil by sea is restricted until the end of May. Currently, the entry of foreigners is authorised in two situations: for emergency medical care or for return to the country of origin by air.

Landing for repatriation is subject to authorisation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) and must be accompanied by Anvisa and the Federal Police. Understand how the repatriation process works in these cases:

Company responsibilities

The company responsible for the vessel (such as carrier or shipping agent) shall be responsible for the stay of the foreigner in Brazil in addition of having to organise the repatriation proceedings.

The company will need to carry out a formal consultation with the MRE for disembarkation and repatriation and to arrange all that is related to flights, dates and times. According to Technical Note 86/2020, the entire travel, accommodation and air transportation procedure must be provided by the company.

How to apply for repatriation

The company must provide the MRE with basic information, such as the location of foreigners, with reference to the vessel or quarantine hotel, the number of people to be repatriated and the date of the operation, with indication of flights and departure times. On the other hand, with the closing of the borders, the MRE will confirm whether the country of destination of the crew member will allow his return.

Definition of communication flow for the repatriation of foreigners in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic:

1. Report

Considering the implementation of restrictive movement measures, in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic (SARSCoV-2), it is necessary to define a specific flow to communicate the repatriation operations of foreigners who are in Brazilian territory.

2. Analysis

In this document we present the procedures for communication regarding the repatriation of foreigners who are on board vessels or remain in quarantine in hotels, after disembarking from vessels or connecting flights and/or stopover in Brazil.

The actions involving the repatriation operations were agreed in the Executive Interministerial Group on Public Health Emergency of National and International Importance – GEI-ESPII, instated by Decree nº 10.211, of January 30, 2020.

It is up to the company responsible for the stay and accompaniment of the foreigner, to organise the repatriation operation, solving the questions related to flights, dates and times. In addition, the company must consult with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – MRE (Secretariat for National Sovereignty and Citizenship Affairs – Tel: + 5561-2030-8733, e-mail [email protected]).

The formal position of the MRE on the possibility of repatriation will be forwarded to Anvisa’s International Affairs Advisory (AINTE/Anvisa) through the electronic mail [email protected].

The authorisation for the repatriation operation, issued by the MRE, must contain, at least, the following information: location of the foreigners (with the name of the vessel and its berth or the name of the hotel where they remain in quarantine and their location), number of foreigners which will be repatriated and the date of the repatriation operation. The responsible company must also present more detailed information, signalling the airport of departure for the repatriation flight(s), with the times of the flights.

After receiving a formal response from the MRE on the repatriation operation, AINTE will forward it to the General Management of Ports, Airports, Borders and Customs Enclosures (GGPAF) and Infrastructure Management, Means of Transport and Traveller in PAF (GIMTV) for sending to Coordination of Health Surveillance in PAF (CVPAF) that will accompany the operation.

3. Conclusion

The defined communication flow aims to ensure the pace and security of the foreigners’ repatriation process.

Switzerland vs. COVID-19

Like all other countries, Switzerland has been, and still is, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cases were as numerous as those in the most affected countries. However, the number of victims is significantly lower, probably because of the quality of the Swiss health care system and better organisation and implementation of government measures.

The Swiss Federal Council (Government) is currently undergoing a gradual exit from the lockdown which will take place in three phases, on 28 April, 11 May and 9 June.

These measures seem all the more credible because containment has never been complete in  Switzerland: non-food stores and pharmacies were closed, as were restaurants, but outside these sectors population was authorised to move and work.

In terms of economy, the closure measures have, as everywhere, caused a great deal of damage and a drop in GDP of approximately 8% is expected in 2020.

This is the result of both the measures taken and the fact that, as the Swiss economy is very integrated with the economies of its neighbours, the loss of purchasing power will be felt in Switzerland.

However, GDP is generally expected to rise by the same amount in 2021, according to projections by most economists.

Assistance measures taken

The federal government and the cantons have also taken measures to support companies and employees.

These compensatory measures include direct aid to companies which had to close or those whose turnover has been significantly reduced, intervention in the payment of commercial rents, loans, loans guaranteed by the public authorities, easier access to temporary unemployment, etc.

It is recognised that these measures have been effective, although they are insufficient to compensate for the losses suffered by businesses. In addition, the Federal Government and the cantons have been very reactive, with aid sometimes being granted within only two or three days.

The future of the Swiss economy

As is the case everywhere, lockdown measures, although not comprehensive, will have medium- and long-term implications.

However, one of the important advantages of Switzerland is that the public authorities were very lightly in debt and therefore have a significantly higher borrowing capacity than most of the other European countries. In addition, the federal budget has been in surplus in recent years, and the state wisely refused to listen to those who recommended the spending of the budget bonus.

Therefore, Switzerland has now a greater capacity to intervene without jeopardising the balance of public finances and without requiring new taxes from taxpayers.

Residence in Switzerland

This is probably one of the reasons why the establishment of a company in Switzerland, or the acquisition of a Swiss residence, is to be recommended today, provided that it corresponds to reality.

There is a concern that some other countries, including in Europe, will take very heavy fiscal measures, either at the end of this year or in the following years, in order to service their very heavy 2020 expenditure incurred.

It is highly unlikely that Switzerland will be forced to take equivalent measures.

It is therefore more than probable that in the coming years there will be additional advantages in establishing in Switzerland, not because of an improvement in the Swiss tax system, but because, compared to that, the taxation of neighbouring countries will be even higher than it is today.