Search Site
Menu

How Will Coronavirus Affect Contractual Relationships and Obligations?

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted practically every aspect of American life. Whether closed by government order or by concerns about public safety, millions of businesses around the country have seen their operations come to a halt. Despite the overwhelming effect of COVID-19, it is not a certainty that an “Act of God” clause in a business contract will enable a party to ignore its obligations under the agreement.

Many contracts include force majeure provisions that account for situations where an outside event prevents a signatory from fulfilling contractual duties. If you’re thinking of relying on this type of provision to justify nonperformance or if a party to an agreement is invoking a COVID-19-related Act of God clause against you, here are some factors to consider:

  • Terms of the agreement As in any contract interpretation matter, it’s critical to examine the document to see if a pandemic is mentioned specifically or generally as an event that would affect the parties’ rights. For example, the collective bargaining agreement between the National Basketball Association and its players’ union specifically refers to “epidemics” as a force majeure event that allows the league’s owners to withhold salary and potentially revoke the entire agreement.
  • Impossibility vs. difficulty Many unexpected things can drastically alter the feasibility of meeting one’s contractual obligations. However, just because something has become more difficult, economically impractical or even dangerous, that does not justify the use of an Act of God exception. Even in a relatively recent case involving a highly contagious disease, Morocco wasn’t able to invoke force majeure to escape liability after it canceled a 2015 soccer tournament while the Ebola virus afflicted West Africa. Though holding the tournament might have been unwise and costly, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that it was not impossible. 
  • Foreseeability Another consideration when a party seeks to defend its nonperformance by claiming an Act of God is whether the circumstance was foreseeable. Financial downturns (even severe ones), shipping problems, material shortages and other situations affecting contract fulfillment are usually considered foreseeable. In fact, some agreements specifically exclude common problems that might lead a contract partner to invoke a force majeure clause.

The unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust all of America into uncertainty. Counting on Act of God language to relieve you from your legal duties might not be a sure bet, even if you believe you have a compelling case. Taking prompt steps to communicate with contract partners might be a better way to reach a solution that acknowledges the harm that was done and modifies certain rights and obligations. By working with a skillful, creative business lawyer, you might be able to avoid a serious conflict over how force majeure is defined in your situation. If consensus cannot be reached, your attorney can advise whether you might succeed in a legal action.

Contact a business law attorney to schedule a meeting 

The Strong Firm P.C. is essentially a business law firm and counsels business clients on various legal concerns. Please call 281-367-1222 or contact the firm online to make an appointment for a consultation.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact a Dedicated Texas Business Lawyer To Schedule a Consultation
Call 281-367-1222 or contact us online to schedule a meeting.

Strong In Action

  • Spring 2021

    The Strong Firm prevails in dispositive motion regarding Texas economic loss rule resulting in dismissal of claims again party.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm successfully forecloses first priority lien against multi-million dollar commercial asset.

    Read More
  • Spring 2021

    The Strong Firm secures writ of reentry after unlawful lockout of commercial tenant.

    Read More
  • Spring 2021

    The Strong Firm prevails in writ of mandamus proceeding involving denial of temporary restraining order to stop foreclosure sale.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  • Peer Rated 2021 Award
  • Clio Client-Centered Certification

Recent Blog Posts

Happy Independence Day – We Are Open For Business

Happy Independence Day! We Are Most Certainly Open For Business! Independence Day invokes feelings of individual freedom and independence being the basis on which our great country was founded.  Over the course of the last 15 months, few things have been entirely certain.  Markets, along with the availability of workers,
Read More
Happy Independence Day – We Are Open For Business

Residential Real Estate: Lawyers, Title Companies, and Agents, Oh My!

Residential Real Estate: Lawyers, Title Companies, and Agents, Oh My!   The evolution of the internet and rapid increase in access to information has changed the way we buy and sell homes. While real estate agents still serve a vital role in the process on both sides of the transaction, many buyers
Read More
Residential Real Estate: Lawyers, Title Companies, and Agents, Oh My!

COMMUNITY AND SEPARATE PROPERTY IN TEXAS: OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL

COMMUNITY AND SEPARATE PROPERTY IN TEXAS: OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL Texas law characterizes property acquired by spouses either community or separate property when property is acquired, and this characterization has tremendous consequences. w defines a spouse’s "separate property" as: (1) property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage; (2) property acquired during
Read More
COMMUNITY AND SEPARATE PROPERTY IN TEXAS: OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL

Scams in Times of Disaster and Emergency

Scams in Times of Disaster and Emergency While Texans are generally prepared for major weather-related disasters during hurricane season from June through October, occasionally a rogue weather event, such as an artic blast, sweeps across the state causing severe and unanticipated property damage to residential and commercial properties. As individuals and
Read More
Scams in Times of Disaster and Emergency
  • Video Vault


    Watch videos done by our legal team to gain a better understanding of your legal needs. Our lawyers give video insight into areas such as Real Estate, Business Law, Mergers & Acquisitions and much more.
Contact us

Quick Contact Form