Just because your jobs haven’t yet been affected by the Coronavirus spread, doesn’t mean they won’t. Government orders have called a halt to construction in Pennsylvania, Boston and Cambridge, Mass., and labor and materials disruptions can impose work delays at any time.
If it happens on your jobs, NewOrleansCityBusiness.com suggests your first question should be whether your contract contains a “force majeure clause” and, if so, whether the scope of that clause covers this situation. Force majeure provisions, sometimes known as “act of God” clauses, may excuse contractual obligations due to unavoidable circumstances outside of a party’s control.
Some form contracts specifically include “epidemics” as a force majeure event, such as ConsensusDocs 200 and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.249-14, whereas the force majeure language in the standard AIA construction contract general conditions (Section 8.3.1 of both the 2007 and 2017 versions of the A201) does not. Regardless of whether the force majeure clause specifically includes the words “epidemic” or “pandemic,” a party must evaluate how the circumstances could be interpreted under the contract language.