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Does Force Majeure apply to the leasing of commercial property?

Some commercial tenants have queried whether the current situation is a force majeure which may allow it to terminate the lease. Clauses which allow a party to terminate a lease for a force majeure event or, to put it another way, an “act of God”, are however extremely rare in modern commercial leases. Even if there is such a provision in your lease, it would need to be drafted to apply to an outbreak of disease.

Related FAQs

What are the key questions to ask ourselves as a business?

Some examples of the key questions to ask include:

  • Is there still a viable underlying business that is likely to continue beyond the current crisis?
  • What does the revised short to medium cash flow look like and will the company continue to be able to pay its liabilities?
  • Does the company have the support of all of its stakeholders – lenders, shareholders, customers, suppliers and banks – even though the business might be in breach of its own obligations?
  • What measures could (and should) the board put in place to protect creditors, including making sure that exposure to creditors (both collectively and individually) is not increased, assets are not sold at less than value and no creditor is treated more favourably than another?
  • Is there still a reasonable prospect of the business avoiding liquidation or administration?

The key question is always whether accepting the money is in the best interests of creditors as a whole bearing in mind that accepting Government support and continuing to trade might increase the company’s overall liabilities. Directors should be mindful that if the business fails, their decisions during this critical time may be scrutinised and it is therefore important that directors have up-to-date financial information and projections to form the basis of any decisions, take stock, get the right advice and document the decisions that are taken.

How often do MHFA qualifications need updating?

The recommendation is every 3 years, however it is recommended that MHFAs receive regular ongoing training and support.

Were any measures sector specific?

All of the measures announced above are aimed at all employers in the UK and are not sector specific. However, over and above these measures the Chancellor also announced a number of financial measures that he hopes will save jobs in the hospitality industry such as the reduction of VAT on food and drink and the “eat out to help out” scheme which has already taken place. The Job Support Scheme is designed to support businesses who face lower demand due to the pandemic, and so is designed to have an impact on those sectors most badly hit.

VIDEO: Market outlooks – the before, during and after

At 10am on the 21st July, we hosted the fourth of our “in conversation…” webinars, this time featuring the ninth largest private bank in the world, Swiss-based Julius Baer. Ward Hadaway partner Emma Digby once again lead the conversation, this time with Luke Downes and Darren Hirst from their investment and relationship teams on “Market outlooks – the before, during and after”. They were joined by Andrew Evans from our private client team to feed in his perspective. This will be of interest to individuals who are thinking about investment portfolios and pension pots, but also businesses keen to see how investors are viewing their sectors, markets and customers.

Luke and Darren took us through how the markets looked pre-Covid, how they responded to the pandemic, and obviously most importantly what we might expect going forwards. They took a look at the sectors that are seeing the quickest bounce-back, discuss which countries are likely to be the most attractive for investors, and where the long term financial gains are expected to be. They also touched on that imminent event, shrouded in mist recently but no less significant – Brexit! What is the expected effect on the markets, and who are likely to be the winners and the losers?

Can employees with caring responsibilities be placed on Flexible Furlough?

Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from the coronavirus can continue to be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed, as you have previously submitted a claim for them in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.

As more people return to work, there is an increased chance of more parents having childcare issues until Schools are fully open. However, they can’t be placed on furlough unless they had been on it before. So it would likely be unpaid leave, unless the government amends the scheme to grant an exemption.