Identifying the applicable law in cross-border disputes on injuries caused by the covid-19 in India: a critical analysis

Khanderia, Saloni (2021) Identifying the applicable law in cross-border disputes on injuries caused by the covid-19 in India: a critical analysis. Commonwealth Law Bulletin, 47 (4). pp. 643-667. ISSN 03050718

[thumbnail of CLB2021.pdf] Text
CLB2021.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (589kB) | Request a copy


The outbreak of COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus disease) has led to the initiation of several disputes. While some of these relate to the non-performance of contracts, others concern the damages arising from the injuries caused by coming into contact with the virus. Considering the nature of the pandemic, a plethora of disputes arising from tortious liability for the injuries caused are likely to involve a foreign element—when it results in injuries in some form to persons by the violation of quarantine rules by foreigners or the failure to impose a lockdown to curb the outbreak. For instance, in the United States [US], a group of individuals and business owners have reportedly initiated proceedings against the Chinese government for failing to prevent the disease from spreading. Likewise, tourists from several countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom have initiated mass litigation against the Austrian Federal State of Tyrol and tourist businesses such as sports resorts, bars and restaurants for continuing the to operate in the State despite being designated as a high-risk zone. International disputes such as these chiefly involve the identification of the law that will govern the claim to decide the rights and liabilities of the parties. Unlike in the case of contractual claims, the determination of the applicable law is more arduous in the case of torts for the reason that the parties rarely, if ever, know each other and do not expect any particular person to injure them by the harmful behaviour. That said, several countries across the globe have made remarkable progress over the years in developing a framework to identify the governing law to adjudicate cross-border disputes on torts. The European Union [EU], the UK, China, Russia, Australia and Canada are some examples. In contrast, India continues to adhere to the century-old mechanism developed under the English common law which has mostly been replaced in the UK itself. In the absence of any black-letter law on the subject, the development of the method to identify the applicable law in matters of tort has depended on the courts. The Indian courts, however, lack experience in handling international disputes on tort. As a result, there is no conclusive and coherent mechanism to identify the governing law in such matters in India. The paper demonstrates how the rules to determine the applicable law in the present form in India will severely debilitate access to justice and increase transactional costs in obtaining legal information. In particular, it highlights the plethora of problems that are likely to arise in adjudicating disputes concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. In this respect, the author provides some suggestions that the lawmakers may consider while reformulating the mechanism to identify the applicable law in matters of tort and, in particular, while adjudicating disputes relating to the COVID-19 pandemic

Item Type: Article
Keywords: COVID-19 | Coronavirus
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Health (Social sciences)
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2022 14:22
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2022 14:22
Official URL:


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item