‘Unprecedented’ doesn’t really cut it.

Simon Creasey

The nation is on lockdown, businesses are shuttered, manufacturing has ceased and the economy has ground to a halt. The word ‘furlough’ has become part of our daily conversations and as property companies take drastic measures to ensure their short-term survival, few are looking at medium- to long-term plans at the moment.

The government is introducing new laws and regulations in hours and days that would typically take months and years to pass through Parliament. As a result, the UK’s legal landscape is rapidly changing and lawyers are being kept busy advising their occupier and landlord clients on their options.

Some of these options are covered in this guide. Take the example of force majeure, the clause in a contract that essentially frees both parties from fulfilling their commitments in the event of something beyond their control occurring – a global pandemic, for instance. Many landlords and occupiers will no doubt have already pored over contracts to see if the clause has been inserted and explored what protections it offers.

We are also likely to see more retail and leisure operators try to protect themselves by entering into company voluntary arrangements (CVAs). In this guide, we explore to what extent CVAs are likely to be deployed.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and over the coming months, we can expect further radical changes to the legal landscape to enable companies to adapt to the new norm – and adapt they will.

Simon Creasey is Property Week’s contributing editor (features)