Navigating the new normal

Coronavirus and Dispute Resolution: what do you need to know?


All content on this page is correct as of April 29, 2020

In this week’s roundup, we examine what the evolving coronavirus pandemic could mean for commercial agreements with a particular focus on contractual obligations, force majeure and frustration.

Podcast

We have recently launched our brand new podcast platform BatesCast. Here we will be hosting a series of podcasts which will delve into all things legal relating to the coronavirus pandemic. In our first episode we kicked things off with a chat with Mindy Jhittay, Senior Associate in our Dispute Resolution team who spoke about the impact the current lock-down is having on contracts.

As the ongoing pandemic is causing unprecedented disruption for organisations across a range of sectors, force majeure clauses in contracts are suddenly front of mind for organisations grappling with their contractual obligations. Do you know if you still have to do what you agreed before anyone had heard of COVID-19? Mindy provides practical tips listeners can use when applying the force majeure clauses in their contracts, and also explains the doctrine of frustration, which might help when there is no force majeure clause to rely on. Click here to listen to the podcast in full and find out more.


Webinars

Our Dispute Resolution team have been involved with delivering webinars over the last few weeks, aiming to keep listeners up to speed with the changing legal environment as the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop. Recently Mindy Jhittay co-presented on a webinar held jointly with NCVO. This explored a range of legal questions that have been emerging for charities across the sector, and pointed listeners to some helpful advice and resources available online.

If you missed out on this live webinar, then not to worry, you can listen to the recording at anytime that works for you! Click here to register for the full recording.


Coronavirus and Contractual Obligations

Coronavirus has caused and is continuing to cause problems, uncertainty and disruption for millions of people. As the government has advised that people limit contact with each other until further notice, we’ve had queries from a number of clients about what happens if they are unable to fulfil their obligations under a contract – for example by cancelling an event or suspending a service. In response to this, we produced an update which discussed the most common issues and challenges to think about when there are obligations to perform under a contract, with particular focus on force majeure and frustration. Missed this update? You can check it out now by clicking here.


Beware Coronavirus Fraud

For all of us, the coronavirus pandemic has been a time of dramatic, unprecedented change to the way we live and work. Sadly, the more things change, the more some things stay the same, and fraudsters have already begun to use the pandemic as an opportunity for new scams. We provided some insights and tips for protecting your organisation from such opportunistic scams in a recent article. If you missed it, click here to read our top tips for protecting your organisation.


Insurance Issues

The disruption caused by coronavirus has inevitably led organisations and individuals to review their insurance policies to see whether the risks and potential losses arising from the virus and from the government’s reaction to it are covered. Over the last few weeks our team has been helping our clients understand whether and how their policies may help them deal with the current situation. The starting point may be to consider what “risks” are covered. Even though standard commercial insurance policies usually cover a wide range of risks, they are unlikely to cover specialised or unlikely risks, such as the effects of coronavirus, and newer policies may exclude coronavirus as a “pre-existing circumstance”. Even if your policy does include notifiable disease as a risk, check to see that it does not fall into any of the exclusions (for example, a mutant variation of atypical pneumonia or SARS) and that you are still covered. As every policy needs to be considered on its own terms and the specific facts relevant to the possible claim, understanding your rights may not be easy. We’ve been helping answer questions covering everything from the scope and nature of business interruption cover through to cover for directors and trustees, and helping our clients navigate the risks they may face both as organisations and personally, as well as providing guidance on discussions with insurers. If you have any more questions surrounding this, then get in touch with our team today.


Insolvency

We have also been assisting with a wide range of queries regarding insolvency related challenges that our clients have been facing during the coronavirus crisis. If you have any questions relating to any insolvency related concerns, whether they relate to your organisation or you personally (or both) during this challenging time, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our dispute resolution team who would be happy to help. You can find out more about our insolvency work here.


Legacies and Coronavirus – Key things for you to consider

With the forecast that the coronavirus outbreak will significantly weaken the UK economy, this will inevitably impact legacy income. We have put together a list of some key issues for you to consider, including property market freezing, will challenging and legacy delegation. Click here to read more.


Serious Incident Reporting by Charities

The team has recently spoken to Thomson Reuters Practical Law about the requirement for charities to report serious incidents. Many charities are currently facing significant challenges in response to coronavirus and all the associated government restrictions that come with it. However the Charity Commission still requires charities to report serious incidents. This video was recorded prior to recent events, but it still provides a useful summary of what charities need to know. Click here to view this video (please note it is behind a pay wall).


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of April 29, 2020.

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