Are scheduled obligations deferred during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown?
To determine this we must refer to the legal definition of ‘Working Day’ and how this might impact on the parties to an agreement.
We reviewed some of the key pieces of legislation:
- Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017
- Building Act 2004
- Property Law Act 2007
- Construction Contracts Act 2002
And some of the key standard form contracts:
- ADLSi/REINZ standard agreement for sale and purchase (10th edition)
- ADLS Deed of Lease 6 ed (2012) (5)
- NZS3910:2013 Conditions of Contract for building and civil engineering construction
The definition of ‘Working day’ typically identifies express days as non-working days, e.g. public holidays or Christmas close-out dates. It does not deal with a situation like this. So if there are dates scheduled during lockdown our advice is to deal with them. You cannot presume they will extend automatically.
The NZLS Property Law Section queried this morning whether, in the context of the Agreement for Sale and Purchase, it is arguable that ‘days’ for the duration of the ‘Level 4’ lockdown status are not ‘working days’. That might prove to be arguable, but our immediate view is it is not a strong argument. We will update you as our thinking develops further but if this does affect you, please make sure you are taking legal advice.