Pennsylvania has had more than 52,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and it can be difficult to enforce contractual agreements during such a pandemic. Although you likely understand that many Philadelphians need to stay safe at home, this is likely to have a major impact on your business.
Contract law in Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area is tricky right now, whether you are trying to cancel a contract or want to keep the other party from breaching. At our law firm, Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C., we handle both types of legal problems and can help you navigate the complicated landscape of contract law.
Many contracts throughout Pennsylvania include what is called a force majeure clause. This means that there is language in the agreement that says that the parties do not have to hold up their end of the bargain under certain circumstances.
A force majeure clause may be a way to get out of an agreement if an event occurs that is beyond a person’s control but is not their fault. However, they need to have at least tried to fulfill their part of the agreement despite the problem.
In 2020 we’ve been devastated by a situation that is beyond everyone’s control, coronavirus (or COVID-19). So even if you have a rock-solid contract to buy toilet paper for your Delaware County market, the contract might be breached by the seller if there is a toilet paper shortage. A Montgomery County toilet paper manufacturer might point to the force majeure clause in the contract to avoid a commercial lawsuit by a Delco store.
On the other hand, a Philadelphia County boutique might have an agreement to purchase clothing from a factory in upstate Pennsylvania. But the clothing store probably hasn’t sold their current inventory, because no customers have been allowed on the premises. Here, the shop might tell the manufacturer that the force majeure clause in the contract excuses them from their side of the deal.
Even though there is a pandemic, a party to a contract might try a business lawsuit for breach of contract if the other party breaks the deal. They could try to get a monetary award or ask the court to force the breaching party do as they promised.
Another option is for each of the parties to come up with some changes to the contract that are agreeable to both sides. At Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C., we are knowledgeable about the many ways to pursue a resolution to a contract dispute.
The Pennsylvania court system has been closed for the most part since March 16, 2020. Judges have only been handling pressing issues. So when the courtrooms open for business as usual, judges will probably be saddled with a huge docket of cases.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Philadelphia area judges have been enduring COVID-19 problems just like you. If you go into court without trying to work it out with the other party first, the judge might not be too sympathetic about your cause.
Conversely, if you are the one who breached the contract, it may help if you convince the judge that you acted in good faith. Then you could show that your force majeure clause applies because of the pandemic.
If you live in Philadelphia or another county in Pennsylvania, we at Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C. are here to help you with your breach of contract matters. Whether you are interested in a commercial lawsuit or are worried about being sued, our team can provide the support you need. Contact our law office, Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C., to discuss your case today.