Coronavirus COVID-19

Coronavirus Legal Briefing | What we're seeing

Published on 3rd Apr 2020

Welcome to Osborne Clarke's Coronavirus Legal Briefing, our newsletter on business law issues in these sombre times.

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In this edition, we look at some of the questions we're seeing and on which we are supporting businesses. If you would like more specific guidance, please connect with your usual Osborne Clarke contact.

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People

For many businesses and legal teams, a principal focus has been on employees. The UK government's announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was followed by many questions about how 'furloughing' would operate.

A big challenge has been to understand the (fairly cursory) available detail while getting communications out to employees, and so we look at five actions for employees in this Osborne Clarke Insight. We go into more detail on handling volunteer leave and holiday carry-over here - and suggest five considerations for international employers here.

We have prepared a more extensive set of furloughing FAQs for employers, which your usual Osborne Clarke contact would be happy to provide – and to put you in contact with our colleagues dealing with other issues around executive remuneration, employee share plans and pension contributions.

Contracts, force majeure and frustration

All businesses are dealing with how and whether contracts can be fulfilled in the unique circumstances of the pandemic. Frequently, those issues can be resolved - or at least acknowledged and moved forward - by open discussion between counterparties.

However, many businesses have asked us to advise on their contractual options, sometimes simply so that a 'fallback' position is known. Each contract is different, but we look at some FAQs on force majeure in this Insight, and we approach this and questions around frustration from a more litigation-focused angle here. We look at governing law considerations in major European jurisdictions here.

Funding

Two (now three) major UK government schemes have launched seeking to give businesses access to capital. We look at eligibility for the slightly more straightforward Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility – the one for larger businesses – in this Insight.

Our attention has also been focused on the challenges businesses are experiencing in accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, with more detail coming from HM Treasury today, together with the announcement of a new loan scheme for medium-sized businesses – both of which we discuss here.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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