In this chapter, we explore the ways in which the impact of COVID-19 on the performance of contracts would be dealt with under the doctrine of frustration in English law. Starting with the strict obligation to perform a contract, we outline the elements of the doctrine of frustration, including the operation of the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 and the possibility of contracting out of the Act. We then examine permanent, temporary and partial impossibility more closely. We also consider the relevance of force majeure and MAC clauses. We then identify elements of the doctrine of frustration which might be open to further development in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, although we do not anticipate significant changes to the law.
Beale, Hugh and Twigg-Flesner, Christian, COVID-19 and Frustration in English law (June 18, 2020) in Sergio Garcia Long, Derecho de los Desastres: Covid-19 (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2020).