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Not long ago, force majeure clauses were often afterthoughts in construction contracts, referring in various ways to potential, unforeseeable and uncontrollable catastrophes, each in one mind’s eye as unlikely to then happen as not. After the fact, parties attempted to shoehorn this untested defense to have it apply to a wide range of events — natural and some unnatural. Then came 2020, and with it a new opportunity to put forward a fresh spin on the traditional “force majeure” concept as COVID-19, along with the attendant governmental shutdowns and other actions, brought havoc and uncertainty to the industry. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the effect on the construction litigation visited on us by COVID-19-related impacts. However, the pandemic and its continuing impact has reinforced the importance of planning for the unexpected — and undefined — when negotiating construction contracts, perhaps even where there is no express force majeure clause to which to point.
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By Marisa L. Byram and Garrett L. Kinkelaar
Keystone Specialty Services Co. v. Ebaugh
Practitioners should take note that depending on the jurisdiction, a well-drafted exculpatory clause may afford additional protections to a commercial landlord, even from its own negligent acts.
By Jessie Yount
Real estate executives say the construction of the office of the future is well underway within the legal industry, despite a dip in leasing activity at the beginning of the year. However, there is a shift toward “densification,” as firms take advantage of favorable market conditions and make longer-term commitments.
By Steven M. Silverberg
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court applied strict scrutiny to a sign regulation as it related to directional signs placed by a local congregation that held services at different locations each week. The Court took another look at the issue of strict scrutiny relating to “off-premises” signs in the case of City of Austin, Texas v. Reagan National Advertising , in which the majority concluded that strict scrutiny should not apply to determining whether the off-premises sign regulations at issue violated the First Amendment.
By Paul Bergeron
The commercial real estate industry is having little trouble shrugging off today’s challenging economic situations and its optimism is brewing with recent pandemic restrictions being lifted, according to a state of the market survey from DLA Piper.