COVID-19 Convention and Meeting Cancellations
In Nashville, the latest word is that almost all conventions, conferences, and meetings scheduled through May 2020 are being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe. For each, there will likely be a negotiation about the terms of canceling or rescheduling the event. Event planners and hosting organizations across the county are struggling with how to deal with this.
As of today, the biggest problem is that the size and the scope of the problem keeps changing. For example, check out this article Questions to Ask Your Venue About COVID-19 from the Professional Convention Management Association dated March 11, 2020. Although it is only six days old, it is clearly outdated already.
One challenge is that how government entities are handling shut downs seems inconsistent with leading medical advice. Experts working on the pandemic suggest that this new period of “social distancing” may last at least two months. However, so far, government-ordered shut downs mostly have been for shorter periods of time. This begs questions about whether force majeure or impossibility provisions will apply.
You should check immediately to see if your contract contains any notice provisions to invoke force majeure or impossibility clauses. Our firm counsels clients on the applicability of those clauses and has litigated them in Tennessee courts. We are in the process of preparing a comprehensive analysis of force majeure under the laws of Tennessee and other states to share with our clients.
Depending on the size of the venue you are working with and whether it is part of a larger brand, the negotiations may vary. The overall financial health of the venue’s operator may play a role. We predict that these factors are going to continue to shift for at least a few weeks as the economy tries to stabilize after the initial shock from COVID-19 hitting America.
“You should check immediately to see if your contract contains any notice provisions to invoke force majeure or impossibility clauses.”
Nashville is a popular destination city for meetings, conferences, and conventions. The industry will recover. For now, though, there are going to many event hosts and planners who will need help working through their venue contracts.
If you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our attorneys, please call Chris Sabis (615-850-6822) or Amy Mohan (615-742-4571 ).