I’ve written for Caterer, Licensee, Hotelier News discussing the impact of the second English lockdown on parties to commercial contracts, particularly in the hospitality sector – an area ripe for potential disputes.
I foresee various issues arising for venues in the sector from enforced closures, reduced footfall, cashflow challenges and, for some, onerous pre-Covid contracts. For suppliers there may be issues with pubs, restaurants, hotels and so on seeking to cancel orders, rejecting deliveries and not paying. It is reasonable to assume that virtually all these challenges will raise issues of contractual performance, force majeure, frustration and the like.
There are a number of practical steps that businesses can take to deal with such disputes, which I discuss in the article: from reviewing termination provisions in the contract, to ensuring any contractual variations are binding and being mindful of any inappropriate pressure to agree new or different terms.
As England comes out of its second lockdown and the Government announces its plans to go back into a (different and more restrictive) three tiered system, it is, sad to say, likely that businesses will continue to have to grapple with these Covid-related contract issues for some time to come.
Read our full guide to COVID-19 related contractual performance issues here.
“There is no escaping the fact that the second lockdown in England has put enormous strain on thousands of businesses in the hospitality sector. For businesses to survive, and in order to avoid legal disputes, commercial contracts do need to be reviewed, parties need to cooperate, and amendments need to be made with care.”