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Parties in complex commercial cases that are accused of defaulting on or breaching a contract may invoke the defense of impossibility, arguing that performance of contractual obligations was rendered impossible by an intervening event. Under New York law, those arguments rarely make it past the motion stage. Courts apply the doctrine narrowly, only to executory contracts and only where the intervening event was both unforeseeable and destroyed either the contract’s subject matter or the means of performance. The related doctrine of frustration of purpose may apply more broadly, but only where it would make little sense to perform on a contract because of an intervening event. The narrowness of these doctrines — and their questionable utility for litigators — underscores the importance of striving during the contract drafting process to include contingency clauses providing for foreseeable possibilities and language making clear the contract’s purpose.
By Terrence M. Dunn
Despite the apparent risks, relocation provisions are frequently not a potential tenant’s priority concern when negotiating the business points of a lease. This is a serious oversight. Signing a lease with an overly broad relocation provision can lead to many issues if the landlord elects to exercise its right to relocate the tenant.
By Alan Nochumson
Part Two of a Two-Part Article
By Gerald M. Levy
“Baseball arbitration” refers to the process used in Major League Baseball in which if an eligible player’s representative and the club ownership cannot reach a compensation agreement through negotiation, each party enters a final submission and during a formal hearing each side — player and management — presents its case and then the designated panel of arbitrators chooses one of the salary bids with no other result being allowed. This method has become increasingly popular even beyond the sport of baseball.
Contractual Allocation of Damage Risk Thwarts Insurer’s Subrogation Claim
Lacking Specifics, Lease Term Is Unenforceable