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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 Glenn A. Browne
When negotiating permitted-use clauses under retail leases, landlords attempt to achieve the most comprehensive limitations possible so as to avoid conflicts with other tenants’ leases and violations of exclusive-use clauses that are maintained by other tenants in the retail facility. Tenants, however, should be very careful to incorporate a certain degree of flexibility and adaptability into their leases’ permitted-use clauses to take into account an evolving landscape.
By Janice G. Inman
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York recently determined that because New York prohibits unlicensed real estate brokers from pursuing payment in its courts for services rendered, a plaintiff who performed real estate work for a client who then did not pay had no standing to sue.
By Paul Fiorilla
Opportunity zones are the latest big thing to hit the commercial real estate market, but many questions remain, including details of how deals can be structured, the best strategy for investing and just how much property there is in the zones.
Expired Lease Terms Don’t Automatically Apply
Landlord Not Liable to Third Party