管理冠状病毒爆发的商业影响:不可抗力声明

2020年1月30日 博客
作者: 凡妮莎·米勒 尼古拉斯·J·埃利斯
发布到: 制造业顾问 仪表板见解 冠状病毒资源中心:返回业务

随着冠状病毒席卷中国主要制造中心,政府已下令许多城市关闭。该地区许多企业和学校的强制撤离和关闭行动,关闭了位于中国的许多制造设施和分销商。此外,许多美国和其他地方的公司正在暂停或限制在中国的业务。 

政府的暴发和由此产生的措施正在影响在中国设有生产设施的公司或供应商。由于爆发没有尽头,短期内对供应链的影响可能会增加。公司应审查其供应链和制造足迹,以评估他们是否有遭受业务中断的风险。如果疫情蔓延到亚洲其他主要制造中心,例如日本或台湾,公司还应考虑其潜在风险。

受到影响或可能受到影响的公司应采取积极措施来减轻风险,并为如何应对运营中断或关键供应商的中断做好准备。公司应采取的最重要步骤之一是检查合同以确定“force majeure”权利和要求可能适用。不可抗力是指一种法律学说,根据该学说,当事方以外的情况可以免除其不履行责任的责任’控制权使当事方无法履行合同义务。

不可抗力条款可能会因各方起草的方式而有很大差异,但它们通常涵盖几类事件,这些事件可能会影响整个供应链中的供应商和客户。这些条款中有许多都包含了一些特定事件的列表,这些事件在合同中可能被视为不可抗力事件。尽管大多数不可抗力条款不太可能具体列出疾病,流行病或检疫,但许多条款都包含涉及自然灾害等一般条款,“acts of God,”政府行为,或“各方以外的其他情况’ control.”冠状病毒的爆发呈现出某种独特的情况,因为它既包括自然发生的成分(病毒本身),也包括政府行动的成分(包括针对疫情采取的隔离措施和其他措施)。双方应仔细审查合同中的不可抗力条款,以确定是否适用。 

Any party seeking to invoke the 不可抗力 provisions in its contract usually must show that there are no alternative means for performing under the contract. Increased costs alone will not be sufficient to prevail on a claim of 不可抗力. For example, if a company is able to ship parts fr om a different manufacturing facility, even if that requires running extra shifts, paying employees overtime and/or expedited fr eight, then it will be very difficult to show that it was unable to perform under the contract.

While every situation is different, there are a number of best practices that most companies can follow when they invoke the 不可抗力 provisions of a contract or when they receive a 不可抗力 notice fr om a supplier:

  1. Review the applicable 不可抗力 provisions to determine what the provision allows and whether the current situation is covered.
  2. Confirm that the notice requirements under the contract have been met. Note that some 不可抗力 provisions have time limitations on reporting the 不可抗力 event after it occurs, so this step should be completed as soon as possible.
  3. Provide or obtain as much information about the specific 不可抗力 claim as possible, including the timing, the number of impacted parts/facilities, and when the 不可抗力 event is expected to conclude. If complete information is not available, the declaring party should supplement its notice as additional information becomes available.
  4. 各方应共同努力评估现有库存,是否有可访问的零件库,不同位置是否有其他生产线以及受影响的供应商’的分配计划(注意:“fair and reasonable”UCC要求跨客户分配§ 2-615(b)).
  5. 考虑是否以及何时增加备用供应商。
  6. 注意对方’s rights if 不可抗力 is invoked, which may include the right to terminate and source fr om an alternate supplier or to terminate after a certain period of time.
  7. 看看整个公司’的供应链,以确定其供应商是否拥有可能受到冠状病毒影响的设施,并开始考虑应急计划。
  8. If the company has received a 不可抗力 notice fr om one of its suppliers, evaluate whether that notice triggers a 不可抗力 event for the company, requiring that notice be provided to its customers.

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