After the ITB tourism fair in Berlin and the IHM trade fair in Munich, the Leipzig book fair and the Geneva Motor Show have also been cancelled due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The Fibo fitness fair in Cologne has been postponed. A number of smaller events have also been affected.
A pandemic like Covid-19 is a so-called force majeure. Force majeure means nothing more than coincidence: it is not the fault of anyone involved that the virus is in circulation.
Organisers, exhibitors and suppliers are now asking themselves what rights and claims they have against each other.
- As a contractor, do I have to provide the services to my client?
- Can I as a contractor demand payment from my client?
- As a client, am I still obliged to pay?
- Do I have claims for damages against my contractual partner?
As a rule, it will not be possible to answer all these questions without taking a look at the contract and the General Terms and Conditions (GTC). These often contain special regulations for cases of force majeure.
If the AGB do not help, the law applies.
The answer depends on whether the organiser cancelled of his own free will or was forced to do so due to an official prohibition.
For officially prohibited events, the following applies: There is a case of so-called impossibility. The contractor does not have to provide any services, but cannot demand payment either.
The following applies to voluntarily cancelled events: Both the contractor and the client remain obliged to perform for the time being. However, a so-called disturbance of the basis of the business (§ 313 BGB) comes into consideration. First of all, it must be checked whether a contractual partner has assumed the risk in the contract that the event cannot take place. If this is not the case, the contractual partners may adjust or, under certain circumstances, even cancel the contract.
As a rule, neither of the parties will be able to claim damages. The prerequisite for this would be that the other party has done something wrong. This is where force majeure comes into play: neither party can be held responsible for the outbreak of the pandemic. Therefore, no one has to pay compensation.
In any case, this is a good opportunity to review the general terms and conditions to ensure that they are crisis-proof.
If you have any questions about the GTC, please do not hesitate to contact us.
(4 March 2020 / updated 6 May 2020)