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The Legal Consequences of Canceling an Event Due to the Coronavirus

Web Admin - Monday, March 16, 2020

Schaumburg breach of contract lawyer coronavirusAs 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.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.
 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/article/cancelled-events-coronavirus.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/force_majeure

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/coronavirus-factors-insurance-industry-to-consider-part-2-event-cancellation-and

Illinois Contract Law and the Statute of Limitations

Web Admin - Thursday, March 27, 2014

illinois breach of contract attorneyLawsuits are based around some sort of legal claim, an event or controversy where someone was harmed. For contracts this harm is usually comes in the form of a breach, where one party fails to fulfill its obligations. However, people are not allowed to simply lie in wait indefinitely after a breach of contract and file a suit decades later. Instead, the law imposes a rule called a statute of limitations. This rule acts as a time limit on filing a case, though the time limit varies based on the particular circumstances of the case.

After learning about statutes of limitations, many people wonder why they exist.

Intuitively, it seems unfair that an injured party should have a countdown placed on their ability to seek compensation. In reality there are two reasons for it, fairness to the defendant and the accuracy of the trial. From the standpoint of fairness, the law believes that even if someone has done something wrong, they still have the right to deal with it in open court and then put it behind them, rather than having the threat of a lawsuit hanging over them for the rest of their life.

As for the accuracy of the trial, evidence often degrades over time. Crucial objects can be lost, and witnesses’ recollections of events can grow hazy. Consequently, courts want plaintiffs bringing cases swiftly in order to have the best information available.

How Long is the Statute of Limitations for Breach of Contract?

For the purposes of contract law the statute of limitations can be as long 10 years or as short as one depending on what type of contract it is. The longest time limit, 10 years, belongs to breaches of standard written contracts. However, if the contract breached was an oral one rather than a written one, then Illinois law brings the statute of limitations down from 10 years to five. Certain sales contracts can have even shorter limits, four years by default, but the terms of the contract can opt to limit it to as little as one year.

In addition to the question of how long the statute of limitations is, the other major concern is the question of when the clock starts to count down. The general rule is that the time limit starts running from the moment of the breach, not the moment that the breach causes the injury. However, there is an exception to this normal starting point if something called the Discovery Rule applies.

The Discovery Rule "tolls" the statute of limitations, meaning that it prevents the time from counting down, until the injured party either discovers the breach or should have reasonably discovered the breach. Importantly, the Discovery Rule does not function for all breach of contract claims in Illinois, so whether it applies will depend on the specific facts of a case. There are also other rules that can toll the statute under certain circumstances such as if the injured party is a minor or away on military service.

If you believe you have a claim against someone for breaching a contract, contact a Palatine civil litigation attorney before the statute of limitations on your claim expires. Our experienced lawyers help clients across northwest suburban Cook County, in towns like Barrington, Des Plaines, and Crystal Lake.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.


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