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As the spread of COVID19 continues, many parts of our daily lives, both business and personal, are falling victim to it. Schools are being closed, events are being cancelled, supply chains are being cut off and worst of all (for some) our Sky Sports subscriptions are becoming obsolete. 

Obviously, the health and well-being of our loved ones is what really matters at a time like this. But inevitably, we will likely all be impacted financially by the crisis. 

This will leave a lot of people and businesses wondering whether they should still be paying the fees associated with a long term contract, even though many of the deliverables in the contract may now not be delivered. 

The common questions we’re receiving are those such as;

Should I still pay my Child’s education fees even though the school will be closed?

Should I still be paying my supplier the agreed contract rate even though the service has been limited or cut off?

Can I pause my TV/Broadband/Utility contract?

There is no simple answer to this question, but the English law doctrine of frustration may offer some guidance. 

Some suppliers may offer goodwill, but the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak has led some commentators to suggest that English law contracts may be capable of being discharged under the English law doctrine of frustration. 

The doctrine of frustration applies where a supervening event, occurring after the formation of the contract and which has not been expressly provided for in the agreement, renders further performance of the contract impossible or illegal, or radically changes the nature of the parties’ rights and obligations such that it would be unjust to hold them to their original bargain.

So strictly speaking, if this law was to apply to the situation, then no, you would not have to pay any fees that would be incurred after the service was disrupted. However, it is important to note that the applicability of the doctrine is in practice likely to be limited and there are relatively few reported cases in English jurisprudence where contracts have been held to be frustrated as a matter of English law.

For any further advice, free of charge, our team at Jolliffes would be happy to help.

Give us a call on 01244 310 022.