What does covid-19 mean for my contractual obligations?

Adrian Jones of Trowers and Hamlins

Adrian Jones, partner at solicitors Trowers and Hamlins, advises practices on where to begin

There won’t be an architecture practice in the country that hasn’t been touched in some way by the coronavirus crisis and many will be asking the same questions.

In this article we highlight some of the contractual issues we are currently advising firms on and provide some practical pointers for directors to consider. Most people are looking for ways to deal with suppliers, customers and employees fairly but also have a need to protect their businesses from supply problems and cash flow issues. As you read this please bear in mind that everyone’s situation is different and as events unfold there may be other options and issues that are not covered here.

Force majeure

The pandemic is having a variety of adverse consequences for business including interruption in supplies, rising costs and unforeseen changes in demand. If your clients or suppliers are experiencing difficulties in meeting contractual obligations they may have mentioned “force majeure” to you. Of course this may also be relevant to you if your practice is struggling to meet a contractual obligation. Force majeure does not have a particular meaning in English law and its scope and effect depends on how it is drafted in a contract (if indeed it is included at all).

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