Among the many ways coronavirus is disrupting business is the inability to finish construction projects, and it’s not just social distancing that’s the cause.
Contractors are reporting supply chain disruptions that are preventing them from obtaining the necessary materials for work, as well as labor shortages because workers are reluctant to report to job sites for fear of contracting COVID-19. And in New Jersey, not all construction sites are authorized to be open.
This raises the question: Does the coronavirus pandemic constitute a “force majeure,” an unforeseeable circumstance that makes fulfilling the terms of a contract impossible?
In its latest blog post, the law firm Connell Foley tackles the issue from a New Jersey point of view. The answer is, it depends.
“In the coming months, we expect that New Jersey courts will need to confront the issue of what constitutes force majeure in relation to COVID-19,” attorneys Mitchell W. Taraschi and Lauren F. Iannaccone. “For example, whether the unavailability of workers, the Governor’s Executive Order requiring non-essential individuals to stay home, and whether disrupted supply chains constitute unforeseeable events that make performance impracticable or impossible and thereby excusing performance.”