The impacts of Covid-19 on international contract performance

The legal consequences of non-performance in international sales contracts under English law

  • Auteur-e: Fabia Stöcklin
  • Catégories d'articles: Contributions
  • Domaines juridiques: Contrat de vente, Droit de commerce international, Droit international
  • DOI: 10.38023/c05fc488-a8f1-4a49-bd8e-be61437e1038
  • Proposition de citation: Fabia Stöcklin, The impacts of Covid-19 on international contract performance, in : Jusletter 7 juin 2021
Many parties involved in international sale contracts are currently unable to perform their obligations due to trade restrictions and production stops caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The English law as the most commonly used trade law deals with this situation mainly through frustration or the force majeure clause. In the following, the application of these two legal principles will be analysed systematically for international sale contracts with regard to the Covid-19 situation.

Table of contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Frustration
  • 2.1. Frustration as legal principle
  • 2.2. Specific criteria for frustration
  • 2.3. The legal consequences of frustration
  • 2.4. Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943
  • 3. Frustration in times of Covid-19
  • 3.1. Contract conclusion before the Covid-19 outbreak
  • 3.1.1. Foreseeability
  • 3.1.2. Fundamental change of the situation
  • 3.2. Contract conclusion after the official declaration as pandemic
  • 3.2.1. Foreseeability
  • 3.2.2. Fundamental change of the situation
  • 4. Force majeure
  • 4.1. General principle
  • 4.2. The legal consequences of the force majeure clause
  • 5. Requirements for the force majeure excuse in times of Covid-19
  • 5.1. Implementation of the force majeure clause in the sales contract
  • 5.2. The occurrence of a force majeure event
  • 5.2.1. The pandemic as the event
  • 5.2.2. Subsequent effects of the pandemic as the event
  • 5.3. Prevention from performance
  • 5.4. Circumstances beyond a party’s reasonable control
  • 5.5. Causation between event and non-performance
  • 5.5.1. The event being the cause for non-performance
  • 5.5.2. Other reasons for non-performance besides Covid-19
  • 5.6. No reasonable steps possible to mitigate the loss
  • 5.7. Burden of Proof
  • 6. Government actions
  • 7. Summary
  • 8. Possibilities for case law developments in English courts
  • 9. Closing words

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