Articles Tagged with Contract Lawyer

AdobeStock_314925095-300x200The Supreme Court of California recently issued an opinion with significant consequences for any business that enters into contracts. This opinion addresses liability for interfering with an at-will contract, as well as the limits of the few exceptions to the statutory ban on non-compete agreements in our state. It is essential for business owners to understand the implications of this ruling in order to enter into enforceable contracts that will not leave them liable for damages, court costs, and other costly expenses.

The Latest Supreme Court Ruling

On August 3, 2020, the Supreme Court of California issued an opinion that answered critical questions about how California law on tortious interference with business relations applies to an at-will contract. The Court ruled that companies are not liable for encouraging others to end an at-will contract unless there is “independent wrongfulness.” This analysis relied heavily on the uncertain nature of an at-will contract. While parties to a binding contract are negotiating for certainty in their future business relationship, there is no such certainty in an at-will contract. For this reason, legitimate business competition takes precedence over the terminable relationship in such a contract.

AdobeStock_192681233-300x188Force majeure is a French term that means “superior force.” A force majeure clause is a negotiated contract provision that addresses what will happen if circumstances beyond the parties’ control affect their ability to complete their contractual obligations. This provision can be applied to manmade circumstances (such as war, riots, and strikes) or acts of god (such as droughts and natural disasters. However: we are currently facing circumstances never before seen in our lifetimes. It is difficult to know whether a force majeure clause will apply to circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will Force Majeure Clauses Excuse Contractual Obligations During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

A force majeure clause usually applies when the circumstances have made a party’s performance under the contract either inadvisable, impractical, impossible, or illegal. The coronavirus may indeed render it inadvisable or even illegal to perform your contractual obligations. Executive orders have prevented businesses from fully opening, and some businesses remain closed altogether. If a contract required these business owners to fully open, that would be illegal. A force majeure clause would excuse contractual obligations under these circumstances.

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