COVID-19: May the Force (Majeure) Be With You

The strain of of the corona virus pandemic is not only a threat to our health and safety, but it is also creating economic hardship for people, businesses and entire industries.

As the ability to perform obligations under existing contracts are being strained, whether for supplies, paying rent or making payroll, parties to agreements are doing more than exercising self-help or looking to the government for assistance. They are also calling their lawyers to find out if anything in their contracts will allow them to legally extricate themselves from the obligations that may have seemed routine only a few months ago.

One of the primary areas of contractual inquiry has focused on the force majeure or excusable delay clause that is ‘boilerplate’ in many agreements. Force majeure literally translated from the French means ‘superior force’ and refers to situations in which some external intervening event has impaired a party’s ability to perform its obligations under the contract and allows that party’s performance to be excused.

For some insight on how effective, applicable and even understandable these so-called ‘standard clauses’ are, you can take a look at my Insight Note: Managing Contract Risks & Remedies in a Time of Coronavirus.

You might also check out a similar Insight Note from my partner and colleague, Juan Zuniga entitled:  Memo on Force Majeure and COVID-19 which goes into great detail as to how the law in California might be interpreted in light of the current health crisis.

In fact, you can find all of the recent Insights from Rimon Law professionals on our Insights & Analysis page and once again a reminder that Rimon lawyers and legal professionals are always available to help.

 

US Chamber of Commerce Issues Coronavirus Small Business Guide

Part of the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is designed to help small businesses keep workers employed during this pandemic crisis and the consequential stress facing the economy. In fact, the CARES Act has allocated $350 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that will provide loans to small businesses that are 100% guaranteed by the Federal government.
The United States Chamber of Commerce has issued a guide to help small businesses understand who is eligible, in what amounts these loans will be available and what criteria will determine whether the loans will be forgiven. You can read the summary right here: Corona Virus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide & Checklist.
As always, I and all of the legal professionals at Rimon continue to remain available to assist during these challenging times.

US Dept. of Labor Issues FFCRA Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division released its initial guidance providing information describing how to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which takes effect April 1, 2020. The guidance includes links to information for employees and employers, as well as links to questions and answers and other useful information about the FFCRA.  The DOL has a separate Coronavirus Resources webpage, providing a large number of references and links to additional information.

The US DOL has also released an FFCRA Poster that every covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises, although the guidance does allow an employer to satisfy this requirement by emailing or directly mailing the notice to employees or by posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website.  Although there is no legal requirement at this time to post the notice in other languages, DOL is currently working on translating the notice.

The legal professionals at Rimon are available to help and as always, if we can’t help you – especially in these challenging times – we will assist you in finding someone who can!  Stay safe and following the recommendations of your national, state, provincial and local authorities to keep yourself, your family, colleagues and friends healthy and prevent the spread of this infection.

Missing Children, Genetics & the Law

As I mentioned in my Legal Bytes post a few weeks ago (Forensic DNA and Missing Children: The Legal & Ethical Issues), I had the honor and privilege of being a featured speaker on 25th of May 2017 – International Missing Children’s Day – at this year’s conference for Missing Children and Genetic Identity, organized and chaired by Patrícia Cipriano, President of the Portuguese Association for Missing and Exploited Children [Associaçāo Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas] held at Lusófona University in Lisbon.

Featuring expert investigators, law enforcement, geneticists and forensic scientists, the conference explored how tough police work, forensic science, government legislators, judges and lawyers can work more effectively and cooperatively within and across national borders.  It also reminded us that DNA kits and learning aides for use by parents, coupled with greater educational efforts and more timely reporting, can help save children’s lives and futures.

The conference was attended by notable dignitaries, including Charlie Hedges, Police Expert, Missing Children and European Alert Coordinator for Amber Alert Europe, Professor Maria do Carmo Fonseca, President of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Professor Maria do Ceu Machado, President of Infarmed, members of Portuguese Assembly of the Republic , senior law enforcement and forensic scientists with closing remarks delivered by His Excellency Dr. Fernando Negrão, a jurist and former Minister of Social Security, Family and Children, Minister of Justice, director general of the Judicial Police and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The conference highlighted the work being done in Portugal and, of course, the work that still needs to be done.  You can read and download the Conference Agenda & Brochure (Lisbon, PT) and feel free to take a look at my presentation Missing Children – Missing Opportunities, Legal Obstacles in our DNA (Rosenbaum) right here on Legal Bytes.

As always, f you would like to know more about this post, the conference, or the topics discussed at the conference, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum.

 

 

Forensic DNA and Missing Children: The Legal & Ethical Issues

Since 1983, when the day was designated by U.S. President Ronald Reagan as National Missing Children’s Day in the United States and spreading internationally through the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN), May 25th has been celebrated as International Missing Children’s Day.  GMAC is a jointly sponsored venture of the U.S. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC),  that focuses on educating parents on steps they can take in protecting their children, as well sharing best practices and information in investigating cases of child abduction, trafficking and illegal adoptions.

This year, I have the distinct privilege and great honor of speaking at the conference for Missing Children and Genetic Identity, organized by the Portuguese Association for Missing and Exploited Children [Associaçāo Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas] and sponsored by Genomed, to be held at Lusófona University in Lisbon on the 25th of May 2017 – International Missing Children’s Day.

The conference will explore the connection between modern genetics and forensic science and on national and international efforts to aide investigations of missing and abused children.  The legal and ethical issues surrounding DNA collection and use, the pros and cons of storing DNA samples and maintaining a database of digital DNA ‘fingerprints’ as well as other bio metric information from individuals – convicted criminals, arrested individuals, victims, family members and even the general public – continues to be hotly debated on the national and international level throughout the world.  In addition to issues of privacy and security, the use and potential abuse of genetic and other bio metric evidence, whether to exonerate individuals or convict guilty individuals, is not just complicated, it is inconsistent across jurisdictional borders.  Sharing of critical information that may help identify a child or investigate a missing person, whether or not a crime may have been committed, is neither assured nor routine – despite the obvious benefits a regulated and carefully constructed information sharing system might be to family members, law enforcement and the forensic scientific community.

The conference, one of many throughout  the world on May 25th, will attract distinguished guests and provide a forum for discussion and shine a much needed spotlight on the legal and ethical challenges and opportunities at the intersection of science, law and law enforcement. I will publish a copy of my presentation and remarks after the conference concludes, but if you would like to know more about the conference, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the organizers directly.