Hello, we are being asked similar questions by a number of members. All FM clauses in new contracts should include a reference to the ongoing pandemic. As you point out there is a risk still that there will be continued fallout from this both on the buy and sell sides. We are advising members to be as prescriptive as possible in thinking about and addressing in their FM clause any future risks that could put the services or goods to be delivered at risk. Think beyond the usual FM remedies of suspension or termination. You may need alterntive remedies which could include a reduction in scope of what is being deliverd together with any associated pricing. You may also wish to consider a phased approach to ramping up obligations after a reduction period due to ongoing uncertainty. It is difficult to cater for all future uncertainties. Thus, we advise that you also build into the contract further agility to cater for complete unknowns that still might arise. IACCM has developed a framework called the VCU to help our members to map out uncertainty within their contracts and ensure that appropriate terms and conditions are used for each contractual relationship. Please contact us if your organisation is interested in participating one of our workshops around this.
I think also important to make the point that when an event is known and on-going, in itself it cannot really be a Force Majeure event! So I'm not sure that either party could invoke coronavirus in a contract being agreed now.
Hi - at my workplace we are mainly dealing with FX related claims that are being submitted as force majeure. In these cases, they are (b) - in that did the party have an opportunity prior to the FM event occurring to reasonably speaking, manage and treat the risk.
We have also launched a survey today which has already generated hundreds of responses and we will be putting out a report on the results early next week so please watch out for that.
I hope this helps and please do let us know if you have further specific questions.
• Cadent Gas Ltd
There are multiple ways to be honest, including Force Majeure clauses and Business Continuity obligations on the supplier which are regularly tested.
• Vaisala Inc.
We have recently added a statement to all quotes to customers with regard to COVID19, namely that it is now a 'known' event and given that the environment is ever-changing that status of your order may change, including for example the time from submission of order to delivery/performance. We will use all commercially reasonable efforts to notify you as soon as possible of any change. So perhaps something along those lines? Our sales and executive teams seem pleased that we are addressing it directly.
Hi Semih - great question, especially as I think that we're yet to see the full impact on many supply chains of this incident.
There will be many suppliers and their customers having discussions about the potential application of this clause. One of the most simple definitions from the internet is set out below :
Unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.
It's instances like this where I go back to what was a watershed moment for myself and many others in the audience when Bruce Everett and Tim Cummins challenged the audience in New Zealand last year, asking why we spend so much time trying to get the best supplier on board to give us the best possible outcome - and then run straight to solicitors when something goes wrong. Perhaps now is that opportunity, if you haven't already adopted the IACCM contracting principles into documents, and think about how you might engage directly with suppliers and customers and hope that they remember back to when everyone was happy that both felt excited to be part of a new relationship - and how to maintain that through what might be a challenging time around the globe.
If you've got a strong relationship with some of your affected suppliers, no doubt you've had a chat already about this.
If not, then perhaps you could kick that off by extending out to them the olive branch to start these discussions.
Thanks for your post. I forwarded it to Tim Cummins, our Founder and President and he wrote this blog for you and others who are interested in the impact of the virus
• Parker Hannifin Corporation, Aerospace Group
I would say yes. This 'Act of God' is causing many companies to shut-down temporarily.
• GKN Aerospace
Yes - in most cases it will be ( unless of course the contract excludes medical issues or similar)
• Norfolk County Council
Might be worth considering what your response was to previous pandemic flu etc and treating similarly
yes, I considered a supervening fact, would be impossible to predict the existence and its effects when signing a Contract...
for me it depends, if the party is from Wuhan, China where the local authorities have declared shutdown or curfew then it may be considered. however if the party is from somewhere not directly impacted with the virus then No. They need to show evidences of the impact which is hindering their obligation to perform the work.
• Pacific Gas and Electric Company
I would describe COVID-19 as an unforeseeable event. It would depend on the nature of a unique good or service to determine if a force majeure clause would apply.
I note your profile refers to "Moreland City Council", I assume Melbourne (Australia).
Note - this response references 'UK' practice and legislation, different rules may well apply in your jurisdiction.
In the UK consideration would need to be given as to whether the contract was let under a government framework (or similar 'public procurement rules'), if so there may well be restrictions in place as to whether you could extend further.
If it is under a Framework, in the UK you would need to offer a 'Direct Award' extension (if permitted). If it is 'non-framework' then you would almost certainly be able to extend subject to agreement with the supplier.
Assuming you can extend, doing so after the previous contract has expired is generally permissible as long as both parties agree; for 'neatness' I would suggest that the extension applies with 'retroactive effect' from the day the previous contract expired, so there aren't any 'uncovered periods'.
Hope this helps
NOTE: you need to be wary of anti-bribery and corruption laws - extending 'expired' contracts rather than running a competitive procurement process often leads to concerns being raised - you may well need to demonstrate that this is very much an 'interim and last resort' measure as a precursor to a full competitive procurement process.
• Victorian Council - Australia
Thank you, Steve
Thank you for the prompt reply!
I agree with your comments
Victoria's IBAC (anti-Corruption body) highlighted that as one of the red flags for corruption
Generally speaking, we do not extend contracts beyond their expiry dates, especially if all extensions have been exhausted.
I am coming to these special and few cases that we have to manage. I am trying to balance commercial needs and legal exposure if any.
Of course it depends on the legislation of each country.
In my case we have gone from avoiding having extensions or addenda to contracts to try as a first option to extend the contract through an addendum since there are many associated advantages such as having a long-term collaborative relationship with the contractor. Manjeand the risk of corruption we have achieved very good agreements to extend contracts.