Frustrating Times: Notes from the Field


  • Stephanie Jones University of Central Lancashire



Business Law Clinics’ involvement in advising Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) reached an interesting crescendo during the pandemic as businesses were often left high and dry by business customers and suppliers who could or would not fulfil their contractual obligations. SMEs, often sole traders or limited companies with no business premises, found themselves unable to access government support and facing insolvency. Many had no contracts in place, or they sought to rely on their terms and conditions of business only to find them lacking due to reasons grounded in law (there is no freestanding concept of force majeure under English law and if a contract is silent on it, English law will not imply it) or process (lack of incorporation of terms through their own fault). In this note I seek to examine the impact of the pandemic on the concept of force majeure and contractual remedies for SMEs in the UK and to contemplate the role of business law clinics in advising SMEs on the use of terms and conditions in business-to-business (B2B) contracts as part of successful operations in the post-Covid world. Drafting sets of terms and conditions for SME clients is a perfect vehicle for meeting the goals of a university business law clinic – community engagement with local SMEs providing them with fast, tailored advice with a bespoke tangible document to take away plus student experience of real- world learning in commercial law (experience which is not always readily available for students outside the big cities).