Among the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, countless legal issues are at the forefront. This project, developed by the University of Trento shortly after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, aims to provide an overview on a worldwide scale of the case law resulting from challenges against government measures to fight the pandemic as well as other disputes related with the Covid-19 crisis.

The World Health Organization has partly financed an important section of this project, with regard to the launch of a Database featuring selected caselaw on global litigation concerning challenges brought against governmental measures countering the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many issues, one objective

When and on which legal bases can governments be held responsible for the way they face the COVID-19 pandemic? Is the declaration of state of emergency a necessary condition to exercise certain powers? To what extent can decision-making powers and competences be challenged within an emergency context? Even when the existence of such powers is not challenged, how do judges assess the discretion exercised by governments?

Are fundamental rights (to health and other rights and freedoms) criteria within the judicial assessment of governmental decisions? Do judges strike a balance between the (fundamental) right to health and other (fundamental) rights and freedom? How? And again, how do Courts ensure that governmental police power respects human rights? Which remedies are available when abuse of powers or wrong balancing is carried?

Do the available remedies change depending on whether the claimant is a public institution or a private party? To what extent can private or public parties rely on emergency regulations when enforcing contracts or disputing liabilities? When can individuals or organizations claim compensation for losses due to the pandemic and not allegedly mitigated by governments?   

To answer questions like these, the project traces the litigation stemming all over the world from challenges related with public health measures adopted within the pandemic.

The ultimate objective is to allow public and private stakeholders to access an open access database with the main decisions issued in these contexts. Consultation is open to individuals and institutions, including governments, judges, lawyers, legal practitioners and scholars.

Hundreds of cases have already been collected and will be available soon in the form of short summaries, here on the official website of the project.

One objective, one international network.

An International Network of Judges and Scholars (INJS) has been established in order to support the development of this project in accordance with its international scale. The INJS is composed of judges of supreme and lower instances courts and scholars affiliated to law schools from different jurisdictions from all over the world. Their contribution is crucial to identify and report relevant court decisions and their original full text, as well as to collect English summaries of the relevant cases.

Covid-19 Litigation Database (under construction)

The selection of court decisions published on the Covid-19 Litigation Database embraces a wide range of areas of law affected by Covid-related litigation. The areas currently covered are listed below. Further categories may be identified over the course of the project based on developments of the Covid-19 litigation. 

  • Business law (freedom to conduct a business) 
  • Consumer protection
  • Education 
  • Freedom of movement of goods and capital 
  • Freedom of movement of people 
  • Health and freedom of association, public gathering, religious worship
  • Health law and detention 
  • Health, right to information and freedom of expression 
  • Healthcare management, including vaccination campaign 
  • Immigration and asylum 
  • Industrial relations and labor law 
  • Non-discrimination 
  • Political activities and representation
  • Privacy and data protection 
  • Private and family life 
  • Procedural law (access to justice, fair trial, jury trial etc.) 
  • Public health and access to healthcare (not Covid-related diseases; including access to reproductive health) 
  • Scope of powers of national authorities 
  • Utilities (energy, telecom, water - access to essential business/goods)
  • Sanctions and violations 

The Working Papers section will cover additional legal areas and issues stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic in both the public and private sectors, as well as further contributions focused on disputes relating to contracts, property, civil liability and family law.