According to the World Health Organization this afternoon, and a televised announcement from the President of the United States this evening, a novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has now been declared to be a worldwide pandemic. Two other examples of how serious this situation is: The President announced a travel ban from most of Europe to the U.S. for the next 30 days, and the NBA just cancelled the rest of their season.
The Delaware Courts have responded by issuing Standing Orders addressing precautionary measures that direct litigants, their counsel, and others who participate in court proceedings about how to address requests for rescheduling, attendance at court hearings, etc., for those who have, or may have, the coronavirus.
In addition, a notice was distributed today that the public investiture ceremony for the newest Vice Chancellor for the Court of Chancery, The Honorable Paul Fioravanti, scheduled for next week, has been postponed due to this public health risk–although His Honor has been sworn in already and is “on the job”. Prior to his recent ascension to the bench, he was a well-respected corporate litigator for many years. Now he is a well-respected jurist. We wish him all the best, and many years of health and prosperity.
The Delaware Supreme Court issued a Standing Order this week regarding how to address the impact of the coronavirus on Court proceedings.
The Court of Chancery also issued a Standing Order on the topic, and the Delaware Superior Court likewise has published a Standing Order with precautionary measures and instructions for how to address obligations to the Court if you have the coronavirus, or have been exposed to it. [Editor’s Note: Both of the foregoing Orders were superseded by Orders effective on March 16 that were also highlighted on these pages.]
As an aside, last Thursday and Friday many members of the Delaware Bar who practice corporate litigation (including yours truly), as well as members of the Delaware Supreme Court and Delaware Court of Chancery, attended the 32nd Annual Tulane Law School Corporate Law Institute in New Orleans, as they have done since the seminar was started by a former Delaware Supreme Court justice. Occasional reports from the seminar over the last 15 years have appeared on these pages. Even though the seminar attracts lawyers from all over the U.S. and other countries, a large percentage of the 600-plus attendees are from Delaware. I only mention this as part of this short post because I hope that those of us who attended this public gathering as well as the several dinners and cocktails parties related to the seminar, did not spread any germs (myself included.) I didn’t notice anyone who had obvious symptoms.