COVID-19 is challenging the world in ways beyond any recent recollection and demanding responses from governments that have the direct effect of stopping businesses from operating and from people earning income. Legal issues are inevitably arising. Click/tap to read more...

The unknowns surrounding COVID-19 are many and we are all being compelled to react to a fast moving landscape. In a legal context some of the issues triggered by COVID-19 are beginning to become clearer and more prevalent.

We are currently assisting clients with:

  • Suspension of contracts
  • Termination of contracts
  • Employment
  • Corporate insolvency and pre-pack administrations
  • Disputes

In all cases we are encouraging clients to engage in an early dialogue with contractual counterparties and employees. We are finding that in all cases people are being compelled to think outside the box and to agree to variations of contractual obligations. In some instances contracts are being suspended or terminated under the guise of Force Majeure clauses. We strongly advocate engagement with us to assist in any procuring outcomes that are not within the scope of already agreed contracts. Businesses need to survive this current crisis and not unlawfully discharge themselves from contract performance without at least knowing the implications.

How companies deal with employment matters is clearly highly relevant as the need to reduce staff costs is, in some cases, immediate. The employment implications are significant and uncharted. We are assisting business and individuals with their current employment issues, doing our best to help them navigate a way through.

Ultimately some businesses will not survive the impossible trading conditions imposed by COVID-19. There are ways to salvage businesses through packaged administration and early advice should be taken. Pre-packs can be used to salvage value and enable a business to move on without the depth of legacy debt that pulled it down. We are well connected with Insolvency practitioners and are ready to assist businesses in great difficulty.

Disputes are a likely by-product of this crisis. The key for business is to try and avoid disputes circling back on them after this crisis has moved on. At the current moment there is no legislative intervention from the government as to how COVID-19 should be regarded as an event affecting contractual rights and obligations. That means the common law will continue to apply, and contracts will be binding subject to agreed variations, contractual rights to suspend performance or terminate. It is certainly too simplistic to believe that all Force Majeure clauses will offer an easy and lawful termination option. Force Majeure clauses are already the subject of much case law, and we suspect a great deal more to come.

COVID-19 is self-evidently a risk event that requires management and control to avoid future complications and claims for damages.