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You can't just say 'pandemic': A conversation with Dan Harris

This interview with Dan Harris (dan@harrisbricken.com) was conducted by Sascha Matuszak (sascha.matuszak@corporatecompliance.org), Reporter at SCCE & HCCA, on April 10, 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is a global health crisis; therefore, most of the world’s attention has been focused on infection rates, death rates, shortages in the hospital supply chain, and the ways in which governments and societies are facing the crisis. Behind the scenes, millions of organizations are trying to determine if and when they will get paid, how they will pay their employees and operating costs, who to sue and why, and whether anyone will sue them.

We spoke with Dan Harris, a founder of the boutique international law firm Harris Bricken, about the legal issues organizations may face, such as force majeure clauses in contracts and disputes invoking doctrines like “ impossibility” and “frustration of purpose.” Harris Bricken has been helping companies navigate Chinese law for more than 15 years, so that’s where we began.

RSCC: China has been issuing certificates to Chinese companies that they can ostensibly use when claiming force majeure due to the coronavirus pandemic. What do you think about that?

DH: Those certificates of force majeure the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade gives out like candy are meaningless outside of China.

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