Managing contract disputes during a pandemic

In the current environment many businesses are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to perform their obligations under contracts. This is our checklist for managing potential contract disputes:

What should I be doing?

  • Review key contracts to determine whether they contain “force majeure” or material adverse change (MAC) clauses
  • Get advice about whether any force majeure / MAC clauses may be triggered, or whether any contracts may have been frustrated
  • Consider whether any contract disputes need to be served
  • Check what contractual / statutory time limits apply to any claims
  • Reach out to counterparties and be pro-active about seeking to agree commercial resolutions
  • Consider doing so on a “without prejudice” basis, if there is a risk of a dispute
  • Take steps to mitigate your losses
  • Consider whether any notifications to your insurers may be prudent
  • Write to your counterparty to reserve your rights and preserve  / protect your position
  • Issue a “document hold” notice to preserve any documents that may be relevant to a dispute
  • Get advice about how best to maximise claims to legal professional privilege over any sensitive communications or documents relating to the dispute
  • Consider your legal options as well as commercial solutions – the two often work best in parallel
  • Consider which employees could be needed as witnesses in a dispute, and whether that needs to be factored into any planned redundancies

What shouldn’t I be doing?


  • Allow documents that may be relevant to a potential dispute to be destroyed or deleted, whether by routine document retention policies or otherwise
  • Assume you can ignore a contract merely because it contains a force majeure or MAC clause
  • Rely on any force majeure / MAC clauses or terminate any contracts without taking advice first
  • Lose members of staff who may be key witnesses and/or integral to the handling of a dispute without consideration​

Further information

If you would like to find out more about this topic or you if need legal advice, please contact our litigation and contract disputes lawyers.


Our content explained

Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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