On 7 May 2020 the UK Government Cabinet Office published "Guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the Covid-19 emergency". The Government recognises that Covid-19 may make it more difficult or impossible for parties to perform their contractual obligations:
It is recognised that parties to some contracts may find it difficult or impossible to perform those contracts in accordance with their agreed terms as a result of the impact of Covid-19 – including through illness in the workforce, the effects of restrictions on movement of people and goods, revised ways of working necessary to protect health and safety, the closure of businesses or the reduction in a party’s financial resources available to make payments otherwise due under the contractual arrangements.
The Government recognises that the present circumstances are "unprecedented and exceptional". It calls on parties to act "responsibly and fairly" in the application and enforcement of contracts where performance has been affected by Covid-19 and asks parties to be mindful of the national interest in preserving the construction industry which will be a key driver in the recovery.
The guidance is non-binding. Even with an employer being ready to act in a spirit of cooperation, it poses the question of whether a contractor whose performance has been affected by Covid-19 would be entitled to relief under a "responsible and fair" application of a typical EPC contract, such as the models published by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC).
The question is relevant for projects in the UK and anywhere else the FIDIC model is used.
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