On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic. At the time, 114 States had reported cases. In a bid to halt the spread of the virus domestically and internationally, many States started winding back public life. The measures, some of which are unprecedented in times of peace, all have one purpose: to slow the spread of the virus.
Many of these measures affect the performance of private contracts, including those entered into by International Organisations and to fulfil them may now be difficult or even impossible.
In some limited circumstances, the law recognises that fulfilling a contract may be deferrable, or that contracts can be even terminated, with no further ramifications. Whether these circumstances exist is highly context-driven and it is fundamental that International Organisations understand their rights and obligations in this exceptional situation. If not handled properly, significant costs and possible reputational damage can be the result.
In this Client Brief, Grotius Chambers shines the light on when, as a result of COVID-19, the deferred or non-fulfilment of a contract may be excusable.