by Michael J. Shapiro | March 06, 2020
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread globally - now to 68 countries and counting - event organizers have a lot of questions. For those with meetings or attendees in the areas most affected by the coronavirus, the questions invariably involve the legal measures associated with canceling - or simply performing far below initial projections in terms of attendance or exhibitors. Attorney Barbara Dunn Esq., a partner with Barnes and Thornburg LLP, and Jack Buttine of Buttine Exhibition and Event Insurance sought to provide answers in a recent IAEE webcast discussion about COVID-19.

First and foremost, confirmed Dunn, general crisis-management protocol should apply, and open communication is essential. "Whether your show is next month or whether your show is in six months, and no matter where your show is, we definitely need to talk about this issue," she said. "And as is the case with any crisis management, the place we usually begin that discussion is with contracts."

In situations like this, Dunn pointed out, force majeure becomes the provision most focused on - a.k.a. the "act of God" clause, or simply put, forces beyond the control of the organizers. The question is, how will that be defined in this outbreak? Given the swift spread of the virus, it's difficult to predict its effects with any certainty. That said, Dunn explained, any force majeure clause can be broken down into three primary components. 

Read the full story on for everything you need to know about force majeure clauses and coronavirus.