Impossibility, Impracticability, Frustration of Purpose, and Force Majeure: History, Commercial Leasing Lessons Learned during COVID-19 and Strategies for the Future

04 Sep , 2024

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Commercial landlords and tenants should understand the evolving case law related to available defenses where the tenant is unable to pay rent. Many lessons were learned during the pandemic, e.g., effectively using contractual force majeure clauses or, alternatively, common law defenses to seek relief; and case law has evolved accordingly.

Often-used common law defenses include impossibility of performance, commercial impracticability, and frustration of purpose. Counsel for commercial landlords and tenants should know how courts are ruling on contractual and common law defenses to prepare the best case moving forward. Defense counsel must also understand the state specifics related to common law defenses such as what qualifies as an impossibility and when and how a force majeure clause may override the availability of this common law defense.

Our panel will guide landlord and tenant counsel on contractual and common law defenses in breach of lease cases due to failure to pay rent. The panel will address recent case law regarding how courts have analyzed claims of frustration of purpose, impossibility, and other common law defenses.

 

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