The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak is already having a significant impact on many individuals and many businesses. Unfortunately, it is becoming clearer that the impact will likely be more significant and longer lasting than we may have imagined at first.
Primarily, businesses should be focussed upon the health and wellbeing of their teams, and what they can do operationally to minimise the spread of the virus. Governments across the world are issuing guidance, and mandating actions that businesses and individuals must take to support this effort.
This is a fast-moving landscape. We are working hard to keep our clients up to date.
This note provides legal analysis alongside some valuable, practical steps that may be taken by parties who find the impact of Covid-19 affects their ability to meet contractual obligations owed to others (upstream), or who find that their trading partners can no longer meet the obligations owed to them (downstream).
In the modern commercial world, businesses are also more reliant on trading partners and long “just in time” supply chains in order to fulfil their contractual obligations. The impact of Covid-19 could significantly upset those finely balanced arrangements. The relationships between parties may be tested in ways they had not previously contemplated.
As trading relationships are now often global, one may have to consider a complex interplay of laws from different jurisdictions, some of which are potentially in conflict. The answers are not simple and are highly fact specific. This note gives some general legal guidance, but it is no substitute for proper legal advice – whether that advice comes from us, or your usual lawyers.
Various governments are introducing emergency legislation to provide support to businesses that may be affected by Covid-19. Some of that legislation may amend the general legal guidance provided in this note.
For countries that are key for our clients, we will endeavour to provide more detailed advice on the latest position.