As a result of the growing threat from the coronavirus, numerous events have been canceled, postponed, or modified out of fear that this virus might continue to spread and put attendees’ health in jeopardy. Some sporting events have been canceled or postponed, such as international rugby games, FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and the NCAA March Madness tournament. In addition, many sporting activities have adapted with the times: some events will not allow crowds, and most professional leagues in the U.S. have restricted locker-room access.
In terms of cultural events, the South by Southwest festival has been canceled. Annual St. Patrick’s Day parades in both Ireland and Boston have been canceled. In addition, many conferences and other educational opportunities have been canceled. With so many events being canceled due to the coronavirus, understanding how you can legally safeguard your company against such cancelations and postponements is critically important, especially when it comes to corporate law.
Breach of Contract and Force Majeure Provisions
The easiest way to make sure you are covered in case the coronavirus causes the cancellation or postponement of your event is to review your contract and see if it contains any force majeure provisions. A force majeure clause in a contract enables both parties to legally breach the contract. However, for something to be considered “force majeure,” it must meet the following requirements:
- - The events must be unavoidable and unforeseeable.
- - The events must not be a consequence of either party’s actions.
Most force majeure arguments imply there was an “Act of God” involved. Some examples of force majeure include:
- - Unpredicted natural disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes
- - A war or other type of massive violent activity like riots
- - Government laws taking effect that prevent the event from taking place
What to Do if You Have to Cancel an Event Due to the Coronavirus
If your contract has a force majeure clause, you should check to see if it explicitly enumerates epidemics like the coronavirus as a possible reason for not being able to complete what is expected from the contract. In those cases, any breach of contract charge brought against you will probably be dismissed.
If, however, you do not have epidemics specifically spelled out in the force majeure clause, then you may need to defend against a breach of contract claim. If your contract has no force majeure clause at all, the case would revert to the common law doctrine of “impossibility of performance,” which states that an unforeseen circumstance has rendered your execution of the contract objectively impossible. When addressing these issues, you should work with an attorney to determine the best strategy for demonstrating that you should not be held liable for a breach of contract.
Upon reviewing your contract, if you find that there is no force majeure clause, or if the clause contained therein does not address epidemics, you may want to add that to a newer draft of that contract and all future drafts. If you enumerate epidemics in your contract, you will not be held in breach of contract. It is also a good idea to include contingency plans in case an epidemic like the coronavirus does cause you to cancel an event, such as plans for rescheduling.
Contact a Palatine Corporate Lawyer
The coronavirus is having a significant effect on the economy. This means that more events will be canceled, and more companies could be considered in breach of their contracts for not hosting a promised event as agreed to in the contract. If your business is faced with this predicament, contact an Inverness breach of contract attorney with the experience necessary to renegotiate your contract or prove that it is impossible for you to fulfill the obligations of your contract. Give Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, at 847-934-6000 a call for a free consultation.