It’s scary, uncertain times as the world grasps with how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has now spread to every continent on the globe with the exception of Antarctica. Although this is a global crisis, it has, and for the immediately future will continue to have, a direct impact on us individually as well our industry.
While the impact of the coronavirus on the construction industry is uncertain, what is certain, is that it will have an impact, whether on the construction labor market, on construction supply chains, on the ability of contractors to deliver projects on time and within budget, and on decisions by owners whether to move forward with projects altogether.
According to Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, during an interview at the ConExpo conference this past week in Las Vegas, while the coronavirus crises “is a story evolving by the hour . . . the impacts on construction are going to happen, but it’s hard to say how extensive, how long they’ll last, [and] how soon they’ll show up.”
From a legal perspective, the coronavirus, and really any natural disaster, from the “Campfire Fire” in Northern California in 2018 to the “Big One” which can happen anytime, has the potential to adversely impact a construction project or shut it down completely. This in turn raises two different, but interrelated legal concepts: (1) force majeure; and (2) delay and time-impact claims.