Notes on the post-COVID Mexican legal landscape

Dear clients of Kalon, 

First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones are fine and healthy during this crisis. 

This will be the first of three emails I’m sending to all of our clients. On this first one I want to provide you all with a brief overview of what is happening in Mexico in terms of legal procedures as well as with the firm. Any questions or doubts, don’t hesitate to write to me. 

Courts and procedures

As most of you know, all courts in Mexico have been closed since the middle of March. The last news from most tribunals is that procedures will start again either on the 16 of June or on the 1st of July (depending on the number of COVID cases in each city). In Guanajuato we are looking at some increase in covid cases during the last few days, which could indicate that procedures will not restart until July. In Mexico City and at the Federal Level, all courts will open until July. 

Regardless of the reopening date, all procedures will restart with safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Such measures will add up with all the accumulated work from this last 3 months of suspension and the two week july vacation period for court officials (courts won’t close but during July most officials will take two weeks of alternated vacation, leaving courts with less human resources during most of the month). These circumstances most likely will mean a very slow restart of the Mexican legal system. 

In simple words: we believe procedures are going to be halted for the next few months, with a possible recovery of the pace of the system until september or october (and only if the virus doesn’t resprouts again and creates more havoc). 

On administrative procedures with local or federal government (like procedures with the City Gov or with the Federal Gov), as well as Public Notary procedures, we also expect some type of slow recovery (though not as slow as with courts). 

Digital systems and e-signature

Most tribunals and government offices are changing their procedures so that they use the digital signature provided by the Mexican Tax Service (SAT). As an example, the Federal Tribunals have updated their digital system to allow all who have such digital signature to put any type of claims and attend any type of processes without ever going into court (prior to covid, this was limited only to constitutional appeals, also called amparos).

Now more than ever we believe is incredibly important that all of our clients have their digital signature (eFirma). If you don’t have your digital signature, this is a good time to get it. We, of course, can help with this. 

Force Major and the Theory of Imprevision in Mexican Law

Just like many other law systems, Mexican law foresees the breaking of some contracts (or the nullification of some penalties in case of contract breach) due to contingencies like COVID. The principle behind this is that unforeseen circumstances and impossibility of fulfilling obligations is enough to break obligations. But this doesn’t automatically apply to all agreements as each case is different. 

We’ve already helped many of our clients in renegotiating contracts during this crisis. Actually, that is what has kept us more busy than usual during this last two months. Some need a contract to prevail, others need a contract to change. We are here to help with any need. 

Labour issues and force major

For those of our clients who are having labour issues because of COVID, it is important to mention that force major and labour law in Mexico have very specific restrictions. As a general rule of thumb, the worker always has more power than the employer, even with a force major like COVID.

Restart of the firm routine in San Miguel

For the last 3 months of contingency, the firm has been working from home, mostly helping clients with negotiations. Starting this next monday 15 of June, we will resume work on the office. As a precaution, we are staggering the time each worker of the firm spends in the office. In my case and for those who rather have personal meetings than calls, I´ll  take meetings in the office from 11am to 2pm, from monday to thursday. The coordination of this schedule will be done by my assistant Blanca (please call her at the office to schedule any needed meeting). Our paralegal will be attending courts and government offices in the morning. For the safety of our clients and us, all firm employees already know that in case they have even minimal COVID symptoms, they need to stay home. And all of the office will be sanitized every two hours and/or every time a visitor leaves. 

Temporary closing of offices in Mexico City and Leon

We are also temporarily closing down our offices in Mexico City and Leon. We will still manage our normal case load in both cities, but because of the higher COVID cases such cities have, it is safer to not have an office open to the public there. We expect to reopen our offices in both cities at some point in the start of 2021. In the meantime, all of our clients there will have us available in normal office hours through digital conference (which has been the way we’ve been working with most, anyway). 

Next emails

On the next few days I’ll be sending two more emails. One with legal and economic insights on the post-COVID Mexico and another one with a brief explanation of the new social and pro bono side of the firm. 

Hoping this email finds everyone well, 

Raul Ramirez Riba

Managing Partner

Kalon & Agathos

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