Monthly Archives: April 2020

FRANCHISES, COVID-19, WWI, IMPOSSIBILITY AND FRUSTRATION

Apr 20, 2020 - Coronavirus by |

FRANCHISES, COVID-19, WWI, IMPOSSIBILITY AND FRUSTRATION By: Jeffrey M. Goldstein Like many other small businesses, countless franchisees have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial and logistical disruptions of the coronavirus have caused numerous franchisees and small businesses to ponder the effects of the pandemic on contracts in general, including, for instance, their franchise agreements, supply contracts and leases. Although many of these agreements contain force majeure agreements, some of them may be determined to be specifically inapplicable to the COVID-19 situation based on the language in the clause. In such cases, the non-performing business or franchisee must avail himself of one of the common law defenses that could excuse his performance, including impossibility, impracticability, frustration of purpose and mutual excuse. Unlike many obligations imposed by law, the obligation to meet contractual obligations is generally considered absolute. In almost all cases, a person who fails to perform under a valid contract will not be heard to justify the breach or non-performance by a supervening event, no matter how devastating. This is true even though the party seeking an excuse was not negligent in failing to perform. If strict liability were not the rule, breaches of contract would be rampant where the non-performing parties found themselves in a worse financial situation after signing their contracts when it came time to perform. The four major exceptions to the absolute duty to perform under a contract (other than where the specific language in a contract explicitly excuses performance in the face of […]

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