- Monitor the impact of the coronavirus on your suppliers. Ask your suppliers (i) about the impact of the coronavirus on their activities (as well as those of their subcontractors) in the affected areas and (ii) about the measures implemented to date in order to mitigate the impact and secure supplies.
- Check the force majeure and hardship clauses in your contracts. Check the force majeure clauses in your contracts to see whether they exclude or include epidemics and pandemics. In the absence of a specific contractual provision, in order to qualify as an event of force majeure under Belgian law, the event must be unforeseeable, beyond the party's control and have effects that cannot be avoided with appropriate measures (e.g. measures recommended by the WHO or the national health services). While the French government has stated that the coronavirus outbreak can constitute an event of force majeure for contracts with smaller firms, the Belgian government has not taken a similar stance. In addition, check whether your contracts provide for hardship provisions (i.e. clauses that allow for renegotiation of contract terms if the performance of contractual obligations becomes too burdensome).
- Insert express epidemic/pandemic wording in new contracts and review/amend existing contracts to the extent possible. Amend new contracts in order to anticipate the qualification and possible effects of epidemics and pandemics. Consider doing the same for existing contracts, to the extent possible.
- Check your insurance arrangements. Check your insurance arrangements to verify whether the policies exclude epidemics and pandemics.
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