The legal system faces an imminent tsunami of legal proceedings. A tenant who failed to pay versus the landlord. A borrower who failed to pay versus the bank. A manufacturer who failed to supply versus the customer. An employer who sent an employee on unpaid leave versus the employee, and so forth.

You first encountered the issue of "force majeure" at university, in a dull lesson (from which all that can be recalled is that in Israel "war is an expected thing"), and perhaps a few more times in the courtroom, for the most part as a leftover of sorts - one that even the arguing party does not really think will be accepted. A few of you, perhaps, have actually dealt with this issue in the context of events resulting from war (or an "operation" or "round of hostilities" depending on one’s preference), but for the most part these related to limited or local matters.

But something like this is unprecedented. Even in all the country's years.

Members of the judiciary - this is your finest hour. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do what is right and good in your own eyes. You have the power to "reboot" Israeli society, and determine which values future generations will be raised upon and follow. Allow me to propose the value of social responsibility.

Your courts will soon be flooded by many people who will be within their rights (at least according to their contracts). Free from the bounds of legal precedent, which you can easily assess – as such a state is unprecedented – take a broad view of the situation: The borrower who stopped paying a mortgage because his workplace was shut – what did he do wrong? The tenant who stopped paying rent because he was fired because of the epidemic – what did he do wrong? The manufacturer who did not supply goods because they failed to arrive by air freight – what did he do wrong? The employer whose restaurant was closed forcing him to send his employees on unpaid leave – what did he do wrong?

Is there any reason to prefer one over the other? Or vice versa?

Given the magnitude of events – no-one is “more right” or “less right”. Do not look for those who are right. Look for what is right to do.

There is no-one to blame for the epidemic we are currently experiencing. And it has hurt us all. Hard. There is no reason to impose the full losses brought on by it to one side or the other. The losses should be shared between the parties. All parties. All of us.

This is the meaning of social responsibility.


Adv. Eyal Oren – Senior Partner and head of Commercial department at Harpaz, Oren, Adler & Co.