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Cancelled Contracts

Advice if your work have been cancelled due to Covid-19.

Last updated: 30 March 2022

Whilst the Government rules haven’t yet changed in a way that should directly impact musicians' ability to carry out engagements, this may well change. Even now, whilst live work can in theory go ahead as contracted, musicians are facing cancellation. This might be due to caution on the part of the engager, or simply because they cannot sell enough tickets whilst the public are limiting social interaction. Whilst such caution is understandable, unless the work is actually prohibited by the government rules, or otherwise affected by frustration, we would expect musicians to be paid for the cancelled work.  

When your contract can’t be performed

In English contract law, where unforeseen circumstances which are beyond both parties control mean that it is impossible or impracticable for the contract to be performed, the parties are likely to be excused from their obligations. i.e. you are not obliged to perform and the hirer cannot claim losses against you, and on the other side of the coin, they do not have to allow you to perform and are not obliged to pay you.

A force majeure will only apply where there is a force majeure clause set out in your contract. Having such a clause doesn’t mean that you are in a better position than those that don’t. If the force majeure clause is triggered, you are unlikely to be getting paid.

If you don’t have a force majeure clause in your contract, the Covid-19 situation makes it probable that the contract has been ‘frustrated’. Frustration is a common law principle which can result in similar outcomes as a triggered force majeure clause.

Legal advice on cancellations

If the Government rules change and gigs are again prevented from going ahead, we might be back in the position where we sometimes have to say that you don’t have a strong claim to recover fees. However, circumstances aren’t the same as they were in 2020. Each case will depend on its facts and on the contract, and we will always do our best to assist our members with pursuing fees.

If you have a query that requires specific advice, please contact us in the first instance. Please be aware that any advice beyond that given here is likely to be limited.

See our financial advice if you are suffering immediate financial hardship, hardship funds and sources of support.

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