A REVIEW OF WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT DECLARED LOCKDOWN DUE TO THE VIRAL PANDEMIC IS SUFFICIENT TO RELY ON FOR THE FRUSTRATION OF CONTRACTS
The Federal and State Government of Nigeria’s regulations preventing non-essential sectors from operating will undoubtedly cause problems in the performance of contracts in various sectors. The government’s action arguably amounts to change in government policy rather than an act of God. This paper will comment on the doctrine of frustration and its applicability in the context of a pandemic. Additionally, it will examine the impact of the government’s response to the coronavirus in some sectors.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus and there is no specific treatment identified for the infection. The world nonetheless is on overdrive in its search for a vaccine albeit with attendant conspiracies and suspects. The Nigerian government has responded to this worldwide pandemic by declaring a lockdown of selected states (Lagos, FCT, and Ogun) by issuing the COVID-19 regulations 2020 in line with the provisions of the Quarantine Act 1926. Other states not lockdown by the Federal government have also implemented varied levels of precautions and limitations of movement to tackle the spread of the disease. The World Health Organization has reported that isolation, social distancing accompanied by lockdowns has proven to be the most effective method of tackling the spread of the disease. However, it comes at great cost to businesses as non-essential services are shut down and forced to work remotely. The closure of both international and internal borders has also caused several supply chain challenges coupled with a high health risk for the people still working. This understandably has created an unfriendly environment for businesses or individuals to comply with prior obligations. The Government regulations whilst disruptive are necessary and proportionate to the threat faced as the global death toll exceeds 72,000. Nonetheless, individuals and companies are faced with uncertainties and must consider if their contracts are still viable in the light of these new facts. Many shall be turning to the doctrine of frustration to discharge non-viable contracts.