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Feature: Event contracts - What you need to be doing now

Matt Crouch, Matt Crouch Legal                 

Associations rely on their conferences and other events to raise much needed revenue.  This awful pandemic has led to many event cancellations and postponements.  Others have evolved into "virtual" events or "hybrids", being part virtual and part face-to-face.

This has brought event contracts into sharp focus.  Insurance may help, but it's your contracts that are in the front line.   

Venue hire contracts are a major problem, because they typically have inadequate force-majeure clauses, muddled with cancellation clauses.  They usually provide for losses to "lie where they fall".  That is, the event may not lawfully proceed because of the pandemic, but you still won't be entitled to a full refund.  You'll need legal assistance to help you negotiate with the venue. 

Many venues are "playing ball" – some are not…  And beware!  Purporting to terminate a venue contract now, relying on force majeure, may place you in breach of the contract and liable for full payment…

Here is a very basic summary of what you need to be doing, right now, with your event contracts.  It's complex and you should get legal assistance:

  • Review existing contracts (especially with venues). It may be possible to negotiate a better outcome! 
  • Don't sign venue contracts for future events unless they contain appropriate risk-sharing arrangements for force-majeure. Negotiate , with legal assistance, wherever possible!
  • Review existing contracts with delegates, sponsors and exhibitors and their terms for cancellation/postponement. What are the consequences – refunds or the option to retain funds for a postponed event?
  • Update delegate registration, sponsor and exhibitor contracts for future events.
  • Establish rules for "on-line" conduct of attendees at virtual and hybrid events. Delegate, sponsor and exhibitor contracts need to make it clear that the event will be delivered, in whole or in part, by virtual means. 

Matt Crouch Legal

matt@crouchlegal.com.au – (02) 9653 1142


*This article was sponsored by Matt Crouch Legal

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