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The impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak on commercial contracts in 15 jurisdictions

Due to the global outbreak of Covid-19, many businesses are confronted with serious commercial consequences, such as delays in the delivery of goods and services, and may look for ways to mitigate the impact on contractual performance. In this situation, they may be faced with difficult legal questions about whether and to what extent force majeure and related provisions in their contracts and in the applicable statutes may be implicated. To assist businesses manage their contractual relationships in light of the rapidly changing Covid-19 situation, we have, across a multitude of jurisdictions, collected principles of potential relevance to a variety of commercial contracts.

It is imperative that parties potentially affected by Covid-19 identify the law governing their agreements to assess how it may impact their contractual relationships and how their commercial contracts, including force majeure clauses, are interpreted. Whilst common law relies mainly on case law rather than on statute, thereby making the parties’ agreement even more important, some civil law jurisdictions have detailed statutory rules on force majeure. Beyond a specific force majeure provision in the contract or relevant statute, a variety of other legal concepts can be relevant, depending on the applicable law, to situations where the performance of contractual obligations is affected by Covid-19. Only a party clearly knowing its rights and obligations can manage risks appropriately and navigate its relationships with suppliers and customers so as to avoid a dispute.

Select each of the jurisdictions below to explore further.

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