The COVID-19 outbreak is causing uncertainty around the world. Organisations are facing or have faced various challenges in terms of health and safety of employees, infrastructure of working from home, supply chain disruption and liquidity to name a few.
As organisations navigate through this latest crisis it is important to consider mechanisms to recover losses incurred. The legal mechanism may not be clear currently – but what is important to know are the steps to undertake now to support possible future loss claims; and at the same time to prepare for claims anticipated against your organisation.
Review any contracts that may give rise to a claim for compensation for actual loss or lost profit, or an obligation to reimburse a counterparty. It is also important to examine the terms of the contracts which relate to the current situation and which could lead to a limitation or cancellation of the right to compensation.
Identify the documents required to substantiate the loss and the deadlines by which the claim, including the documentation, is to be submitted. If the required information is not entirely clear, communicate it with your insurance company, an insurance broker, or contact a lawyer.
Set up internal processes so that the information you need to prove the loss is stored in one place, and you do not have to search for it when you need it. It is better to have more data and documents than less, but all of them should be relevant.
If the reimbursement includes a loss of profit, you should consider the method of damage quantification and types of necessary supporting documents. At the same time, please take into consideration the period in which the loss incurred and whether permanent damage should also be quantified.
Make a request for compensation in a timely manner, within the time limit specified under the applicable contract, policy or regulation, and ensure it is as thorough as possible. This needs to be done in conjunction with your legal advisers.
„Even though most of your thoughts and efforts are focused on cash flow management and operability of the company, documentation of the damage incurred and collection of materials must be performed right from the start and continuously.
Retrospectively, it is often difficult to remember all the details and some of the documents may even get lost in the course of time.“
In addition to evidence about the losses incurred, it is important to clearly document the decisions made by the organisation in reaction to the crisis that were implemented to mitigate any losses including governmental anti-crisis measures.
For periodically prepared documents, such as cash flow reports, save versions for individual periods during the crisis, as well as shortly before and shortly after the crisis. Continue to capture the impact as and when restrictions are lifted and when businesses return to normal – as there may be longer lasting effects.
Set up cost centres internally so that management can charge / allocate time to dealing with the crisis.
Empower a person / team to drive the data collection and define data collection rules and procedures. It is of great importance, particularly in the remote working environment.