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COVID-19: A global pandemic with local implications

19 March 2020 -

An update from McTaggart Grant Lawyers on navigating the virus crisis

As a boutique law firm, we are fortunate enough to be agile and we have been able to adapt to the rapidly evolving situation. We will continue to remain open for business and we are available to support our clients, professional colleagues and businesses in need of our assistance at this time.

There is a substantial amount of negative messaging circulating in the media, but we do not believe that the economic impact of COVID-19 needs to be as severe or as extensive as many fear that it will be.

No doubt you have all seen, or heard, the extensive commentary that has already been published by our peers about how the pandemic might affect contractual obligations, employment arrangements financial and banking commitments, obligations under leases and continuous disclosure requirements for ASX listed companies.

While we absolutely applaud our peers for getting ahead of the developing situation and offering general guidance and advice to the public, we believe that the high-level of uncertainty and volatility in money and other markets means that it is now more important than ever to speak to your trusted professional advisors.

It is extremely important to obtain specific and tailored advice about what the pandemic means for your business and how you can take steps to mitigate the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

We can provide specific support, when you need it, in the following areas:

  • Advice on contractual exposure: we can help you review existing contracts and provide guidance on the impact that COVID-19 will have on your ability to perform the contract, or the ability of your counterparty to perform the contract.
  • Key supplier and customer contracts: we can help you to amend existing contracts, or draft new contracts, in a way which explicitly addresses how the COVID-19 pandemic (and other pandemics and widespread outbreaks of infectious diseases) affect the parties’ obligations under the contract (for example, force majeure clauses, non-performance and termination rights, excusable delay provisions and liquidated damages clauses).
  • Corporate transactions (buying and selling businesses and shares): we can help you by negotiating and drafting transaction documents quickly to ensure that deals are closed fast, avoiding the risks and uncertainty that are inherent in slow-moving transactions.
  • Due diligence: we can help you undertake legal due diligence in relation to a business, a corporate target or group or an individual asset and provide you with advice in relation to the specific risks associated with that business, target/group or asset in the context of the pandemic and the economic effects of the pandemic.
  • Leasing arrangements: we can help you by assisting with negotiations for new leases and variations to existing leases to address tenants’ requests for rent relief & abatement, impacts on turn-over rent based leases, bank guarantees and termination rights in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Finance agreements: we can help you by reviewing debt and credit arrangements and providing advice around financial covenants, events of default and options for dealing with creditors and banks.

One of the key lessons learned during the GFC was the financial, economic and social cost of acting and responding slowly to a crisis. Whilst its encouraging that the Federal Government has expedited a support package for Australian businesses, more needs to be done to support our local businesses now and in the immediate future. Many commentators are calling on the Queensland State Government to follow the lead of the State Government in Western Australia by introducing broad-based stimulus measures targeted squarely at homeowners and SMEs.

We are committed to supporting local businesses and those in the Gold Coast community who are doing it tough at this time. So, wherever possible, please follow our lead and support Gold Coast businesses by buying local products, using local services and ensuring that the risk of COVID-19 is kept in perspective.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like any specific assistance or support during this time .

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