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Macau SAR: Coronavirus chapter 1: Legal challenges on contracts under Macau law

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Ruins of Saint Paul's Catholic Church with tourists. They are one of Macau's famous landmarks.

Any assessment of the overall impact of the SARS CoV2 outbreak, also known as coronavirus, on global and local economies and, generally, on nearly any issue of relevance for all countries and regions, would be premature and would likely turn out to be no more that futurology. However, it is already obvious that there are significant and measurable direct and indirect implications on legal markets and systems around the world.

In certain places this is stark: governments and legislators have imposed states of emergency, with extraordinary restrictions on people, activity, assets and procedures. But, beyond such situations - which will hopefully be temporary - the exceptionality of the current circumstance is felt in a more disperse and granular manner, with significant impacts on the activity, organisation and procedures of corporation and on the carrying out of contractual duties.

The implications for contracts extend far beyond the possible qualification of concrete force majeure events, with the customary suspension or delayed maturity of contractual obligations (with variations, depending on the concrete type of contracts and on whether the contract is assisted by any relevant express provisions in this respect).

The temporary difficulty in delivering either party’s contractual obligations - irrespective of the coronavirus’ characterisation as a force majeure event - may justify the suspension, delay, or equitable modification of either party’s obligations.

In other circumstances, the impact of these circumstances on ongoing contracts may lead to a justified exoneration of parties from contracts and to their consequent termination, irrespective of any stipulations which could otherwise be read as having the opposite effect.

Particular attention should be paid to public procurement contracts, given the special constraints and prerogatives assisting public procurement.


João Nuno


Daniel de Senna