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COVID-19: Pressure Points: A quick reference tool to help assess the availability of force majeure relief under English law (UK)

02 June 2020 | UK
Legal Briefings

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The global crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably prompted many commercial parties to reconsider their contractual arrangements, either because they (or a counterparty) are facing difficulties in performing their obligations or because the contract has become uneconomic in light of changed circumstances.

Many commercial contracts contain force majeure clauses, which will typically suspend the parties’ contractual obligations where performance is prevented (or hindered or delayed) as a result of some event outside the parties’ reasonable control. Such a clause may also give one or both parties a right to terminate the contract if the force majeure event continues for a specified period of time.

This interactive tool is designed to assist you in evaluating the availability of force majeure relief under English law, either in respect of your contractual obligations or those of your counterparty, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or related circumstances.

Note that, apart from force majeure provisions, there may be other ways of excusing non-performance or bringing the contract to an end, for example under a "material adverse change" clause, or if performance of the contract has become impossible or illegal so as to "frustrate" the contract at common law, or if there is a right to terminate under an express term of the contract or for repudiatory breach. These possibilities are not addressed further in this tool currently.

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