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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.
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By Danielle C. Lesser
Malls across America, long suffering even before the rise of COVID-19, are now forced to confront a wave of store closures. Troubled retailers will, without doubt, seek to close their failing mall locations. To stem these efforts, landlords have applied to courts for injunctive relief to force stores to remain open and operating, despite lagging sales, through the enforcement of the “continuous operations provision” found in mall leases.
By David Leffler and David Jacoby
Current circumstances present an opportunity for tenants to use new strategies to renegotiate or even terminate leases. This article looks at conventional legal strategies that may provide grounds for lease termination before turning to consider another, third, approach.
By Richard S. Fries
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a property owner might reach out to its lender for urgent, needed debt relief. The lender, which strives for a performing asset, an on-going relationship with its customer makes concessions. In exchange for these concessions, the lender should obtain credit and legal enhancements., which should also enable the lender to make concessions that are more meaningful to the property owner, its investors, its tenants and its business.
By Christine Simmons
Overall, the pandemic will likely result in long-term changes for law firm offices. While law firm leasing activity will eventually pick up, firms may decrease their overall footprints, taking up 10% to 15% less square footage because some people will continue working from home.