Corona and Private International Law: A Regularly Updated Repository of Writings, Cases and Developments

by Ralf Michaels and Jakob Olbing

Note: This repository will stay permanent at
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Updated: May 28, 2020

The coronavirus has created a global crisis that affects all aspects of life everywhere. Not surprisingly, that means that the law is affected as well. And indeed, we have seen a high volume of legislation and legal regulations, of court decisions, and of scholarly debates. In some US schools there are courses on the legal aspects of corona. Some disciplines are organizing symposia or special journal issues to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the respective discipline.

Private international law has not (yet?) consolidated discussions of the relevance of the crisis for the field, and of the field for the crisis (though the new EAPIL blog is running a very valuable series). But of course, private international law matters are crucial to countless issues related to the epidemic – from production chains through IP over possible vaccines to mundane questions like the territorial application of lockdown regulations.

Knowledge of these issues is important. It is important for private international lawyers to realize the importance of our discipline. But it is perhaps even more important for decision makers to be aware of both the pitfalls and the potentials of conflicts of law.

This site, which we hope to update continually, is meant to be a place to collect, as comprehensively as possible, sources on the interaction of the new coronavirus and the discipline. The aim is not to provide general introductions into private international law, or to lay out sources that could be relevant. Nor is this meant to be an independent scholarly paper. What we try to provide is a one-stop place at which to find private international law discussions worldwide regarding to coronavirus.

For this purpose, we limit ourselves to the discipline as traditionally understood—jurisdiction, choice of law, recognition and enforcement, international procedure. Coronavirus has other impacts on transnational private law and those deserve attention too, but we want to keep this one manageable.

Please help make this a good informative site. Please share any reference that you have – from any jurisdiction, in any legislation – and we will, if possible, share them on this site. Please contact



The early reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak were of general character and discussed the viruses implication on conflict of laws broadly.

Matthias Lehmann discusses the role of private international law on a number of issues – the impact of travel restrictions on transportation contracts, contract law issues for canceled events, canceled or delayed deliveries, but also liability for infections. 

There will also be an online-workshop on “COVID-19 und IPR/IZVR” by Matthias Lehmann on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. (zoom video-call).

A group of Brazilian scholars organized an online symposium on Private International Law & Covid-19. Mobility of People, Commerce and Challenges to the Global Order. The videos are here (Note: the last session is still forthcoming on May 22).

The Organization of American States holds a weekly virtual forum on “Inter-American law in times of pandemic” (every Monday, 11:00 a.m., UTC-5h). One topic of many will be on “New Challenges for Private International Law” (Monday, June 15, 2020).

The Secretary General of the Hague Conference provided an online message from his home. Ensuing, the Permanent Bureau developed a Toolkit for resources and publications relevant to the current global situation.


State Liability

Some thoughts are given to compensation suits brought against China for its alleged responsibility in the spread of the virus. One main issue here is whether China can claim sovereign immunity. The debate however tends to be very political.

In the United States, several suits have been brought in Florida (March 12), Nevada (March 23) and Missouri (April 21) against China, which plaintiffs deem responsible for the uncontrolled spread of the virus, which later caused massive financial damage and human loss in the United States. Not surprisingly officials and scholars in China were extremely critical (see here and here).

But legal scholars, including Chimène Keitner and Stephen L. Carter, also think such suits are bound to fail due to China’s sovereign immunity, as do Sophia Tang and Zhengxin Huo. Hiroyuki Banzai doubts that the actions can succeed since it will be difficult to prove a causal link between the damages and the (in-) actions by the Chinese Gorvernment. Lea Brilmayer suspects that such a claim will fail since it would be unlikely, that a court will assume jurisdiction. Tom Ginsburg lays out the legal issues in an interview in German. Fabrizio Marrella discusses the Italian perspective.

A Republican Representative is introducing two House Resolutions urging the US Congress to waive China’s sovereign immunity in this regard; such a waiver has also been proposed by a Washington Post author. The claim has also found support by Fox News.

Interestingly, there is also a reverse suit by state-backed Chinese lawyers against the United States for covering up the pandemic. Guodong Du expects this will likewise be barred by sovereign immunity.

In the UK, the conservative Henry Jackson Society published a report suggesting that China is liable for violating its obligations under the International Health Regulations. The report discusses ten (!) legal avenues towards this goal, most of them in public international law, but also including suits in Chines, UK and US courts (pp 28-30). Sovereign immunity is discussed as a severe but not impenetrable barrier.


Contract Law

Both the pandemic itself and the ensuing national regulations impede the fulfilment of contracts. Legal issues ensue. An overview of European international contract law and the implications of COVID-19 is given here and here.

If a contracting party is unable to perform its contractual obligations, incapacity to perform can be based on force majeure or hardship. Some contributions suggest to apply for force majeure certificates which are offered by most countries, for example by China and Russia. How such a certificate can influence contractual obligations under English and New York Law is shown by Yeseung Jang. The German perspective is given by Philip Reusch and Laura Kleiner, further the South Korean and the Common Law perspective on force majeure have been published. The difficulty to implement appropriate force majeure clauses in a contract is shown by Matteo Winkler.

Victoria Lee, Mark Lehberg, Vinny Sanchez and James Vickery go beyond force majeure implications on contracts in their expert analysis. William Shaughnessy presents issues which might occur in international construction contracts.

Another crucial aspect is the application of overriding mandatory rules on international contracts. Ennio Piovesani discusses whether Italian decree-laws enacted in view of the pandemic can operate as such rules and whether that would be compatible with EU law. So does Giovanni Zarra on international mandatory rules. Aposotolos Anthimos adds the Greek, Claire Debourg the French perspective to the discussion. Matthias Lehmann considers more broadly possible private international law issues and responses under European law. José Antonio Briceño Laborí and Maritza Méndez Zambrano add the Venezuelan view.

The crisis hits in particular global value and production chains. Impacts are discussed by Tomaso Ferando, by Markus Uitz and Hemma Parsché and by Anna Beckers, though neither focuses specifically on private international law.

Caterina Benini explains a new Italian mandatory rule providing a minimum standard of protection for employees.

Klaus Peter Berger and Daniel Behn in their historical and comparative study on force majeure and hardship, highlight that such remedies are quite regular to find and fit to distribute the risk emanating from such a crisis evenly.



Next to state liablitiy, a lively but less political discussion on civil liability in international tort law has evolved.

Florian Heindler discusses how legal measures to battle the virus could be applicable to a relevant tort case (either as local data or by special connection).

An extensive overview about damages and Corona under Indian international tort law is given by Saloni Khanderia.

General implications of the coronavirus on product liability and a possible duty to warn costumers, without specific reverence to conflict of laws.

In Austria, a consumer protection association is considering mass litigation against the Federal State of Tyrolia and local tourist businesses based on their inaction in view of the spreading virus in tourist places like Ischgl. A questionnaire is opened for European citizens. Matthias Weller reports. Jos Hoevenars and Xandra Kramer discuss the potential of similar actions in the Netherlands under the 2005 Collective Settlement Act, WCAM.


Family Law

Implications also exist in family law, for example regarding the Hague Abduction Convention.

In an Ontario case (Onuoha v Onuoha 2020 ONSC 1815), concerning children taken from Nigeria to Ontario, the father sought to have the matter dealt with on an urgent basis, although regular court operations were suspended due to Covid-19. The court declined, suggesting this was “not the time” to hear such a motion, and in any way international travel was not in the best interest of the child. For the discussion see here.

Aspects of travel restrictions in international abduction cases are analysed by Gemme Pérez.

A general overview of abduction in times of corona was published by Nadia Rusinova. Another contribution by her covers recent case law and legislation on remote child related proceedings which were conducted during the last weeks around the world.

A recent webinar also discussed the impact on the Hague Abductions Convention.


Personal Data

The protection of personal data in transnational environments has always been a controversial topic in conflict of laws. Jie Huang shows, that due to COVID-19 existing tensions between the EU, the USA and China are reflected in their conflict of laws approach.


Economic Law

The crisis puts stress on global trade and therefore also economic law. Sophie Hunter discusses developments in the competition laws of various countries (though with no explicit focus on conflict of laws issues).


Intellectual Property

Due to lockdowns and school closures, online work and teaching has exorbitantly increased but, as Marketa Trimble stresses, with little notion of transnational copyright issues.


Public Certification

In times of lockdown and closed borders notarization and public certification become almost impossible. Therefore, various countries have adjusted their legislation. You will find an overview here.


Dispute Resolution

Regulations against social contact and lockdowns make physical presence in court rooms impossible and thereby put pressure on courts. Some courts suspend their activities except for urgent matters (one international abduction case in which this becomes prevalent is discussed in the family law section.) Developments in Italy are discussed here, developments in English law here.

Another possibility is the move to greater digitalization, as discussed comparatively by Emma van Gelder, Xandra Kramer and Erlis Themeli. The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) published a Guide to Good Practice on the Use of Video-Link under the 1970 Evidence Convention, discussed also with reference to Corona by Mayela Celis.

Maxi Scherer takes the crisis as an opportunity to analyse virtual hearings in international arbitration. Complications and long-term effects of virtual arbitration are presented here.

A very broad presentation of legislation in France, Italy and Germany in civil procedure, including cross border service and taking of evidence as well as its implications on international child abduction and protection, is given by Giovanni Chiapponi.

A US project guided by Richard Suskind collects cases of so-called “remote courts” worldwide.

The EU gives information about the “impact of the COVID-19 virus on the justice field” concerning various means of dispute resolution.

Gilberto A. Guerrero-Rocca analyses the impacts of COVID-19 on international arbitration in relation to the CISG.




Direito Internacional Privado & Covid19, Mobilidade de Pessoas, Comércio e Desafios da Ordem Global, Webinar 11-22 May 2020,

Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), HCCH Covid-19 Toolkit, 04 May 2020,

Matthias Lehmann, Corona Virus and Applicable Law, EAPIL Blog, 16 March 2020,

Secretariat for Legal Affairs, Organization of American States: Inter-American law in times of pandemic, Weekly virtual forum 11 May – 06 July 2020,

Società italiana di Diritto internazionale e di Diritto dell’Unione europea, Forum “Covid-19, Diritto Internatzionale e Diritto dell’Unione Europea”, SIDIBlog, 24 March 2020,

State Liability

Hiroyuki Akiyama, US lawsuits seek to pin coronavirus blame on China: Allegations of negligence raise legal questions about responsibility, Nikkei Asian Review, 01 April 2020,

Stephen L. Carter, No, China Can’t Be Sued Over Coronavirus: Nation-states are immune from such lawsuits, Bloomberg Opinion, 24 March 2020,

C.D. Davidsmeyer, Strip China’s Sovereign Immunity and Sue for Damages Caused by Coronavirus, 03 April 2020,

Guodong Du, Meng Yu, A Wuhan Lawyer Suing the U.S. Government Over COVID-19? In China, Legal Impediments May Surface, China Justice Observer, March 25 2020,

Georg Fahrion, Reparationen für Coronavirus: “Soll China dem Rest der Welt einen Scheck über zehn Billionen Dollar ausstellen?”, SPIEGEL Online, 05 May 2020,

Matthew Hernderson, Alan Mendoza, Andrew Foxall, James Rogers and Sam Armstrong, Coronavirus Compensation? Assessing China’s potential culpability and avenues of legal response, The Henry Jackson Society, April 2020,

Chimène Keitner, Don’t Bother Suing China for Coronavirus, Just Security, 31 March 2020,

José Antonio Briceño Laborí, Maritza Méndez Zambrano, El Derecho Internacional Privado ante el COVID-19, Derecho y Sociedad Blog, March 2020,

Matthias Lehmann, Corona Virus and Applicable Law, EAPIL Blog, 16 March 2020,

Fabrizio Marrella, La Cina deve risarcire i danni transnazionali da Covid-19? Orizzonti ad oriente, SIDIBlog, 17 May 2020,

Hollie McKay, How China can be held legally accountable for coronavirus pandemic, Fox News Channel, 20 March 2020,

Frank Morris, The Coronavirus Crisis: Missouri Sues China, Communist Party Over The Coronavirus Pandemic, National Public Radio, 21 April 2020,

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Missouri Attorney General Schmitt Files Lawsuit Against Chinese Government, 21 April 2020,

Zhong Sheng, U.S. practice to claim compensation for COVID-19 outbreak a shame for human civilization, People’s Daily Online, 03 May 2020,

Zheng Sophia Tang and Zhengxin Huo, State immunity in global COVID-19 pandemic: Alters, et. al. v People’s Republic of China, et. al., CoL Blog, 21 March 2020,

Marc A. Thiessen, China should be legally liable for the pandemic damage it has done, The Washington Post, 09 April 2020,

Xinhua, Commentary: Suing China for pandemic damage is nothing but political pandering, edited by Huaxia, Xinhua News, 03 April 2020,

Ng Yik-tung, Ho Shan, Sing Man and Qiao Long, Chinese Lawyers Sue U.S. Over ‘Coronavirus Cover-up’, edited by Luisetta Mudie, Radio Free Asia, 26 March 2020,

Contract Law

Apostolos Anthimos, Covid-19 and overriding mandatory provisions, CoL Blog, 15 April 2020,

Anna Beckers, Towards Consti­tutionalizing Global Value Chains and Corporations: The State of Exception and Private Law, Verfassungsblog, 08 April 2020,

Caterina Benini, The COVID-19 Crisis and Employment Contracts: the Italian Emergency Legislation on Dismissals, Eapil Blog, 11 May 2020,

Klaus Peter Berger, Daniel Behn, Force Majeure and Hardship in the Age of Corona: A Historical and Comparative Study, McGill Journal of Dispute Resolution, Forthcoming,

Claire Debourg, Covid-19 | Lois de police et ordonnances 2020, GIDE 7 May 2020,

Tomaso Ferando, Law and Global Value Chains at the Time of Covid-19: A Systemic Approach Beyond Contracts and Tort, Eapil Blog, 20 March 2020,

Claudia Galvis, Jose Moran and James O Brien, Coronavirus Outbreak: Global Guide to Force Majeure and International Commercial Contracts, Global Compliance News UG, 19 March 2020,

Tony Dongwook Kang, Seong Soo Kim, COVID-19 and Force Majeure in Sales Transactions — South Korea, Bae, Kim & Lee LLC, Law Business Research, 06 March 2020,

José Antonio Briceño Laborí, Maritza Méndez Zambrano, El Derecho Internacional Privado ante el COVID-19, Derecho y Sociedad, March 2020,

Victoria Lee, Mark Lehberg, Vinny Sanchez and James Vickery, Expert Analysis: COVID-19 Contract Issues Reach Beyond Force Majeure, Law360, 13 March 2020,

Pedro de Miguel Asensio, Medidas de emergencia y contratos internacionales, personal Blog, 27 April 2020,

Pedro de Miguel Asensio, Contratación internacional y COVID-19: primeras reflexiones, personal Blog, 19 March 2020,

Ekaterina Pannebakker, ‘Force majeure certificates’ issued by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CoL Blog, 17 April 2020,

Ennio Piovesani: Italian Self-Proclaimed Overriding Mandatory Provisions to Fight Coronavirus, CoL Blog, 19 March 2020,

Philip Reusch, Laura Klein, Distribution of risk in connection with coronavirus-related trade disruptions, Reuschlaw Legal Consultants, 2020,

William J. Shaughnessy, William E. Underwood, Chris Cazenave, COVID-19’s Impact on Construction: Is There a Remedy? — Time Extension, Force Majeure, or More?, The National Law Review, 03 April 2020,

Sophia Tang, Coronavirus, force majeure certificate and private international law, Coronavirus outbreak and force majeure certificate, CoL Blog, 01 March 2020,

Markus Uitz, Hemma Parsché, Coronavirus – ein Praxisleitfaden bei Unterbrechung internationaler Lieferketten, Ecolex 273, no. 4, p. 273, 04 April 2020,

Anton A. Ware, Jeffrey Yang, Yingxi Fu-Tomlinson, Timothy C. Smyth, What to Do When You Receive a Coronavirus-Related Force Majeure Notice, Coronavirus: Multipractice Advisory, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, 04 March 2020,

Matteo Winkler, Practical Remarks on the Assessment of COVID-19 as Force Majeure in International Contracts, SIDIBlog, 06 May 2020,

Giovanni Zarra, Alla riscoperta delle norme di applicazione necessaria Brevi note sull’art. 28, co. 8, del DL 9/2020 in tema di emergenza COVID-19, SIDIBlog, 30 March 2020,

Tort Law

Florian Heindler, Schadenersatz mit Auslandsberührung wegen COVID-19 ZAK 2020/237

Jos Hoevenaars and Xandra Kramer: Mass Litigation in Times of Corona and Developments in the Netherlands, CoL Blog, 22 April 2020,

Saloni Khanderia, Kashish Jaitley, Niharika Kuchhal, The COVID pandemic: Time to ‘ramp-up’ India’s conflict of law rules in matters of tort?, CoL Blog, 14 April 2020,

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, Product Liability and Tort Law Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis, JD Supra, 02 April 2020,

Verein zum Schutz von Verbraucherinteressen (Verbraucherschutzverein), Class Action: Corona-Virus-Tyrol questionnaire, 2020,

Verein zum Schutz von Verbraucherinteressen (Verbraucherschutzverein), Sammelaktion Corona-Virus-Tirol, 2020,

Matthias Weller, Cross-border Corona mass litigation against the Austrian Federal State of Tyrol and local tourist businesses?, CoL Blog, 02 April 2020,

Family Law

Pamela Cross, Recent case: Hague Convention case under COVID-19 court protocols, Luke’s Place, 31 March 2020,

Gemma Pérez, ¿Puede el COVID-19 tener efectos en materia de sustracción internacional de menores?, Diario Jurídico, 27 April 2020,

MK Family Law (Washington), Grotius Chambers (The Hague), COVID-19 and International Child Abduction: Pertinent Issues, CoL Blog, Webinar 08 April 2020,

Nadia Rusinova, Child abduction in times of corona, CoL Blog, 16 April 2020,

Nadia Rusinova, Remote Child-Related Proceedings in Times of Pandemic – Crisis Measures or Justice Reform Trigger?, CoL Blog, 30 April 2020,

Personal Data

Jie (Jeanne) Huang, COVID-19 and Applicable Law to Transnational Personal Data: Trends and Dynamics, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 20/23,

Intellectual Property

Marketa Trimble, COVID-19 and Transnational Issues in Copyright and Related Rights, IIC – International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 51 (2020), 407–410

Public Certification

Ralf Michaels, Notarization from abroad in times of travel restrictions, COL Blog 22 May 2020,

Dispute Resolution

Giovanni Chiapponi, Judicial cooperation and coronavirus: the law must go on, Judicium, 23 May 2020,

Giovanni Chiapponi, The Impact of Corona Virus on the Management of Judicial Proceedings in Italy, Eapil Blog, 13 March 2020,

Mayela Celis, Useful reading in times of corona and just released: The Guide to Good Practice on the Use of Video-Link under the HCCH 1970 Evidence Convention, CoL Blog, 17 April 2020,

European Union, Impact of the COVID-19 virus on the justice field, The European e-Justice Portal, 2020,

Emma van Gelder, Xandra Kramer and Erlis Themeli, Access to justice in times of corona, CoL Blog, 07 April 2020,

Gilberto A. Guerrero-Rocca, Arbitraje internacional al ‘rescate’ de la CISG en tiempos del COVID-19, CIAR Global, 21 April 2020,

Horacio Grigera Naón, Björn Arp, Virtual Arbitration in Viral Times: The Impact of Covid-19 on the Practice of International Commercial Arbitration,

Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), Guide on Use of Video-Link under Evidence Convention, 16 April 2020,

Aygun Mammadzada, Impact of Coronavirus on English Civil Proceedings: Legislative Measures During Emergency and Potential Outcomes, Eapil Blog, 13 May 2020,

Maxi Scherer, Remote Hearings in International Arbitration: An Analytical Framework, Journal of International Arbitration (forthcoming Aug. 2020),

Richard Susskind, Remote Courts Worldwide, Society for Computers and Law, 27 March 2020,