Covid-19: Key questions from businesses

Sonya Bassett, partner and head of corporate and commercial at Coodes Solicitors provides an update on the questions the team is currently being asked in relation to the coronavirus

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Businesses here in the south west are adapting to the considerable challenges posed by the measures being put in place to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. We have had a busy few days helping our clients to understand what they need to do in order to meet these challenges as best they can. Here are the three key questions we are currently being asked.

1. I am in the process of selling my business. What should I do?

Many of the clients we advise are in the process of buying or selling businesses. Many of them are now reviewing completion dates but continuing to progress the transaction and making the most of working from a home office.

2. How should I adapt to help my business ride the storm?

We are talking to many of our clients about changes they can make to give themselves the best chance of meeting these new challenges. Our clients are adapting the provision of their business to enable them to continue to trade through the difficult period. It is also great to see collaborations taking place between smaller businesses to enable them to get products out to homes. Many are working together to keep elements of the business running.

Now is a good time to look at your processes and map out what changes you could make, speak to accountants and lawyers about company structures and make positive changes for when all businesses are ready to run on all cylinders again.

3. How does business interruption affect my contracts?

Unsurprisingly, we have many clients asking about how business interruption affects their contracts. You should check your insurance policy and maybe speak to your insurers to find out how that is affected but will also need to review your contracts for force majeure clauses.

The concept of force majeure is not implied in a contract, it must be expressly set out within. The contract may allow you an extension of time to provide services, it may allow a suspension of the contact, or it could enable the parties to walk away from the contract. In order to understand whether the force majeure clauses can be triggered by coronavirus you would need to closely examine the words in the clause. In each case you will need to carefully explore the effect coronavirus has on the ability to perform the contract and the consequences on each party in the event that it is affected. Every contract and every relationship is different so the clauses must be reviewed carefully within each scenario. We can advise you on this and help you understand whether or not your contracts cover for this unprecedented situation.

It is business as usual for the corporate and commercial team. We are all up and running and well used to working remotely. As always, we are here to provide support and assistance to our clients.

For more information or advice on these issues, please contact Sonya Bassett in the Corporate and Commercial team at Coodes Solicitors on sonya.bassett@coodes.co.uk