COVID-19: Force Majeure under PRC, HK SAR and English law
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has affected major cities and numerous towns in the PRC and around the world. On 30 January 2020, the Director General of the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”. As the situation continues to evolve rapidly, the coronavirus outbreak presents not only a public health crisis but also disruptions to businesses and their supply chains. We see clients faced with challenging questions concerning their exposure to liability under contracts of different governing laws entered with Chinese and international parties. In particular, there are concerns that contractual obligations can no longer be fulfilled as a result of the outbreak and consequential epidemic control measures implemented by governments. This article provides practical insights on the scope and operation of (i) force majeure under PRC law, English law and Hong Kong SAR law; and (ii) frustration under English law and Hong Kong SAR law.