Today, we’re happy to be speaking to one of the best-known and most respected people in the meetings and events industry when it comes to legal issues. We have Tyra Warner joining us! Tyra is an attorney, and she is very knowledgeable about all things legal. In today’s episode, she talks to us about force majeure, risk management, contracts, legal issues, and the importance of human relations over and above any legal contract.
**This podcast was recorded in April, during the early phase of the global pandemic.
About Tyra Warner
Tyra Warner Hilliard, Ph.D., Esq, CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) is an attorney, and she’s the Department Chair, and a professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management, at the College of Coastal Georgia, where she teaches courses in law, crisis management, and meetings and events. Her expertise lies in legal and crisis preparedness issues for the meetings, events, and hospitality industries. Tyra is published, and she’s widely quoted on legal and crisis management issues in academic and trade publications.
How force majeure plays into the current global situation
Force majeure has become the term of the day recently, and Tyra points out that anyone who wasn’t sure of its meaning before certainly understands what it means now.
Force majeure is very fact-specific. Tyra has been getting some direct questions about it lately, including questions about whether or not COVID is a force majeure. Tyra explains that the answer to that depends on all the facts and specifics that surround the particular situation. And this is how it will always be with force majeure.
Making tough decisions
In extraordinary times, business people often need to make decisions before they know how everything will fit together.
Insurance and event cancellation
Force majeure often goes hand-in-hand with cancellations if there’s event-cancellation insurance. Recently, Tyra has been hearing that even people who have what they consider to be a solid event-cancellation insurance policy are now finding out about all the exclusions in those policies of which they were previously unaware.
Force majeure or cancellation?
Tyra’s advice in a situation where you are unsure whether the cancellation of your meeting or event will be a force majeure or a cancellation is to call your insurance company and talk to them about the specifics of your situation.
Planning far ahead can be risky
Planning an event a year into the future can make or break an independent business owner.
That is why Tyra always advises independent business owners to be aware of who will be taking on the lion’s share of the risk in every business situation. They need to know in advance whether the client or their company will be left holding the financial bag, should something go wrong. Make sure the same people signing contracts are the same as the insured just in case things don’t work out as planned.
Tyra Warner’s advice for independent business owners
Tyra’s advice to independent business owners is to think about their own risk aversion and to set their business practices accordingly.
Planning for the future
Tyra hopes that this latest crisis has made business owners think about their business continuity plans and their emergency reserves. Think about whether you will be able to operate and if your business will stay afloat if things get shut down for some time.
Another thing that business owners should be aware of is currency fluctuations. In the global crisis like the one we’re experiencing right now or political unrest, we tend to see those fluctuations.
Working with an attorney
It’s always a good idea for meeting planners and independent business owners to have a relationship with their legal counsel. Get educated about contract language. Luckily, you can do this through conference sessions and webinars. These avenues train you to identify any red-flag situations and call an attorney.
If you’re dealing with a high-dollar situation, it’s better to pay a small amount to an attorney ahead of time, to have something reviewed. It’s likely to save you money early on. Don’t wait until you have an issue. By that time you may already be in trouble.
Most lawyers will charge on an hourly basis for the number of hours they have worked. Alternatively, they will charge a flat rate for a project.
Links and resources:
Listen to Tyra on previous episodes:
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