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:
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.
Hayes, Berry, White & Vanzant, LLP counsels business clients on various legal concerns. Please contact the firm online to make an appointment for a consultation.
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