We’ve witnessed a significant change in how we live, socialize, and do business with the world in 2020. With the onset of COVID-19, many of us put our lives on hold. However, business must continue. As companies find their footing, some are bound to face legal disputes stemming from employment, changes in the practicality of performing under the terms of existing contracts, and/ or impossibility of performance.
An experienced contract dispute attorney will review the disputed contract to accurately assess your options. Ultimately, the first best step is to sit down with the other party to explore possible solutions for all parties to resolve any conflicts that have arisen in this unanticipated, new age we live in. However, if all else fails, you need an experienced contract dispute attorney who will be blunt and forward about your options, the likelihood of success, and the nature of litigation. If litigation is called for, you need an attorney who can navigate the legal system while aggressively pursuing your cause.
In the past, communications or negotiations pertaining to contract disputes were typically held in-person, with both parties conferring across a table with their legal teams present. With social distancing, you are more likely to attend a Zoom meeting with all parties present.
Communications aimed at contract dispute resolution are also proceeding forward through phone calls and emails. All paperwork, including contracts and other legal documents, still goes through your attorney. The information is then passed to the opposing business and their legal team via no-contact methods. However, we have found that face to face interactions, even via Zoom virtual meetings, is currently presenting the most effective means of communicating with opposing parties. This kind of personal face to face interaction can assist in reducing frustrations and allowing parties to aim efforts at dispute resolution.
Regardless of the method used to communicate, all interactions are aimed at minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. In fact, the entire legal system has completed an overhaul and remains flexible, to ensure litigants’ safety and accessibility to legal intervention.
Force Majeure Clauses
If your business contract includes a force majeure clause, nonperformance by any involved party may be excusable under certain circumstances. Force majeure “excuses nonperformance when events beyond the control of the parties prevent performance.” By this definition, government-mandated laws and regulations, including stay-at-home orders, would protect the opposing party.
If a contract does not include a force majeure clause, however, the contents of the contract itself determine what types of nonperformance, if any, will be excused and to what extent. Most contracts have legal language regarding foreseeable and unforeseeable situations that may or may not affect your contract terms.
Business contract litigation is a complex area of law. It is important that you have the assistance of an experienced attorney to advocate on your behalf. Call 858-472-5653 for a free case evaluation.