As the coronavirus sweeps across the country and the government demands that all but essential workers stay at home, never has the phrase ‘force majeure’ been so relevant to contractors or employers.
This innocuous term, which is almost an afterthought in JCT contracts, is just as worrying as the virus itself for all connected with construction. A force majeure is the occurrence of an event which is outside the control of either one or both parties and which prevents them from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.
The current government guidelines have an impact on manpower. The virus is spread through the air and by failing to keep surfaces clean. Men working in close proximity, and building sites not being known for their cleanliness, raises the risk of the virus spreading in these situations. It is therefore understandable for contractors to think about standing down their workforce.
As there is no end date for high rates of contagion, contractors can’t be certain whether they will still be able to meet completion dates if they cease work on site. In most JCTs an extension of time can be requested and should usually be granted. However, consideration will have to be given as to how far along the build has reached and what outstanding works need to be done. Government guidelines, industry procedures, and health and safety regulations will also form part of any decision, but it may be possible for work to continue so no extension of time would be required.
In some JCTs there is also the right to terminate the contract due to a force majeure. However, whether it is the employer or the contractor who wants to take this route, there are procedures which have to be followed. A failure to terminate correctly can be costly. Even where termination is effected correctly, the terminating party may owe and/or be due monies from the other party.
Whether there is a request for an extension of time or a party is considering termination of the JCT, neither should be done without deconstructing all the facts as, although there is a need to stop the virus, it may not always mean that construction has to stop or be delayed.
If you wish to discuss this further or have any questions about the legal implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the construction industry, then please call Audrey Lawrence (Legal Director) on 020 7963 8682 or email email@example.com.
I am delighted to announce that Jennifer Scurfield has been appointed as a Partner from 1st April 2019.
Having joined the firm on 13th March 2013 and qualified as a solicitor on 15th July 2015, I could not be more pleased that Jennifer has worked her way up the firm from paralegal, to trainee solicitor, to newly qualified solicitor, to associate then senior associate solicitor and now partner. Her client care and attention to detail are second to none and match her invariable ability to get the best result possible for her clients.
Jennifer is now the head of our Residential Leasehold team and advises upon:-
- Contentious and non-contentious residential leasehold issues; including complex licences to alter with a high financial value and technical complexity; and
- Leasehold Reform Act work, including advising both landlords and tenants on claims to acquire freeholds, lease extensions and right to manage claims.
She also has extensive general real estate litigation experience, regularly taking cases to Court, the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and the Land Registration Tribunal.
Jennifer is a member of the Property Litigation Association and a member of Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners.
She obtained both an undergraduate and graduate degree in law from the University Pantheon-Assas Paris 2 (France) and an LLM from the University of Kent (Canterbury). She also successfully completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (with Commendation) and the Legal Practice Course (with Distinction) at the University of Law (London-Bloomsbury) before being offered a training contract at the firm.
Having been raised in France with a British background, Jennifer is bilingual and regularly assists the firm’s French speaking clients with services in English property law.
DDI: 020 7963 8691
I am delighted to announce that Dominika Libova has been appointed as Partner in the firm from 1st April 2019.
Dominika joined the firm on 1st May 2013 and qualified as a solicitor on 15th April 2016. I could not be more pleased that Dominika has worked her way up the firm from personal assistant to paralegal, to trainee solicitor, to newly qualified solicitor, to associate then senior associate solicitor and now partner.
I am continually amazed by her dedication to her clients and her unrelenting desire to win, leaving no stone unturned in her preparation and conduct of often difficult pieces of litigation.
Dominika now specialises in all aspects of real estate litigation, with a particular focus upon property fraud and rights of light matters.
Dominika is also an accomplished advocate and is qualified as a solicitor-advocate (Higher Courts Civil Proceedings). She is also a member of the Property Litigation Association.
Dominika holds a masters degree in Law and a doctorate in Law and Criminology from Pan European University in Bratislava, as well as a commendation in the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), a commendation in the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the LLM International Arbitration from the University of Law.
A native Slovak speaker, with experience as an in-house lawyer in Slovakia, she assists clients with cross-border matters in Central and Eastern Europe.
DDI: 020 7963 8693
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