Coronavirus in Africa and its effect on contract performance: a checklist

As Africa in turn is hit by the extreme situation caused by the coronavirus, many businesses are likely to face important practical difficulties. This comes as a second impact for many: with African trade remaining more heavily inter-continental than other continents, many African companies will have already felt a first shock-wave from the impact of the coronavirus on international trade generally.

A key question for African businesses is whether the coronavirus outbreak can excuse them or their counterparts from performing their contractual obligations, such as by triggering a force majeure clause.

Civil law and common law systems address this issue in similar but different ways, and this is therefore an important starting point to the analysis, whether in a civil law jurisdiction, (such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, or OHADA jurisdictions including Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal) or a common law jurisdiction (such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania) or in the case of South Africa drawing on elements of both.

Although mechanisms in both legal systems excuse performance of obligations in some circumstances, the hurdles are high and it is advisable that you seek advice at an early stage. As a preliminary step, here's our checklist on what to do in the immediate future.

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