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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 James O’Brien
Part One of a Two-Part Article
This article outlines the basic elements of an SNDA and will explain the differences between the concepts of “non-disturbance” and “recognition,” while contending that lease recognition is more important to the tenant than not having its possession disturbed.
By Joseph I. Farca
Collecting the Legal Fees It Cost You to Collect Legal Fees
Does your New York commercial lease form expressly provide that the landlord may recover the legal fees it incurs to recover legal fees from its tenant? If not, then the landlord may be out of luck trying to recover such “fees on fees,” as they are known. But it wasn’t always this way.
By Daniel J. Ansell
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation modifying existing rent laws and enacting significant landlord-tenant reforms. To date, the real estate industry has focused primarily on the sweeping impact the new laws will have on residential tenancies and the deregulation of rent-stabilized apartments. The reforms, however, also dramatically impact commercial tenancies by altering non-residential summary proceedings and significantly hampering the ability of commercial landlords to respond effectively and quickly to tenant defaults.
Despite State Law, Merger Extinguishes Renewal Rights of Successor in Interest
Court May Rely on Parole Evidence to Show Illegal Purpose of Sublease