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Can sanctions on Russia provide a defence for non-performance under Cayman Islands law contracts? | Walkers

Can sanctions on Russia provide a defence for non-performance under Cayman Islands law contracts? | Walkers

The Insolvency and Dispute Resolution workforce at Walkers in Dubai continue on to advise on the influence of the new sanctions imposed on Russia in an offshore context, which include whether or not these types of sanctions can give increase to a defence for non-general performance below Cayman Islands regulation contracts. We established out below a summary of the posture.

Force Majeure

Professional contracts will generally have a “force majeure” clause which in standard terms offers for a party influenced by an unexpected exterior celebration to escape liability for breach of contract. Ordinarily after a given time period the counterparty can terminate. Drive majeure can include things like any circumstance not in a party’s affordable command and in several contracts the clause will particularly identify bring about activities including an act of God, terrorism, war, explosions, civil disturbance and riot.

The Cayman Islands Courts regard the contractual agreements of parties, such as whichever record of categories of activities they figure out really should constitute a power majeure celebration. Accordingly, wherever an agreement includes a power majeure clause which aspects the gatherings that constitute force majeure, then these types of a clause is very likely to be valid, binding and enforceable in between the parties to that arrangement. Events could have chosen a broad or slender definition of what constitutes a force majeure function. Where the pressure majeure clause does not precisely reference sanctions, the Court will glance to figure out no matter if the definition of a pressure majeure handles this specific scenario.

To day the Cayman Islands Courts have not been requested to address this challenge in relation to sanctions. Nonetheless, the Cayman Islands Courts would most likely acquire into thing to consider the posture of the English Courts which in a the latest final decision in MUR Shipping BV v RTI Ltd [2022] EWHC 467 (Comm) held that the certain wording of the power majeure clause lined sanctions due to the fact it contained the wording “any regulations or laws of governments or any interference or functions of governments” and “limitations on financial transfers and exchanges“. The relevant party in that circumstance was that a get together could not pay the other in US pounds as required below the agreement. The pressure majeure clause was subject matter to the afflicted social gathering employing reasonable endeavours to conquer that difficulty. The Court identified that sensible endeavours would not increase to requiring the seller to accept payments in a different forex (below Euros) which would imply a variation or non-performance of the deal. Whilst this decision does not assure that sanctions would be protected by all pressure majeure clauses, it can give some convenience the place the clause is drafted broadly.

Where the problem is significantly less clearly related to the sanctions or as binary as forex provisions, for case in point a disrupted offer chain and non-general performance by 3rd events, the factual state of affairs in every single case will identify regardless of whether the breach of the existing agreement is actually over and above the influenced party’s reasonable handle.


If a Cayman Islands law governed contract has no express provision for pressure majeure or the clause cannot be relied upon in regard of a specific occasion, the frequent regulation doctrine of aggravation applies. This doctrine is intended to protect contracting get-togethers from unavoidable and unexpected instances that make the functionality of contracts impossible.

In purchase to fulfill the Cayman Islands Court that sanctions imposed on Russia give increase to a frustrating function (therefore supplying increase to a defence for non-functionality), the contracting social gathering will will need to demonstrate that the imposition of sanctions:

  1. transpired immediately after the deal has been entered into
  2. rendered functionality of the agreement difficult, unlawful or radically different from what was at first contemplated by the events
  3. was not the fault of the contracting get-togethers and
  4. was not envisaged by the deal or the events.

The Court will consider a multi factorial and simple fact dependent method when selecting if a agreement has been disappointed and considering the pursuing challenges which are key in a sanctions context.


When relying on annoyance on the foundation of impossibility, it is essential to display that there is no way to execute the contractual obligation. Exactly where, for illustration, sanctions make it unattainable to make payments below the deal because of to the disconnection of financial institutions from SWIFT, this could sum to a annoying celebration. However, a get together simply cannot rely on this foundation wherever an exemption or license is offered less than the sanctions routine which makes it possible for effectiveness underneath the deal.


Illegality below foreign law does not decrease a get together from efficiency of a agreement ruled underneath Cayman Islands legislation. This will make it unlikely that the Cayman Courtroom would conclude that the illegality of the contractual obligation beneath the sanctions regime (i.e. foreign legislation) frustrates or usually relieves a get together from overall performance of a agreement ruled by Cayman Islands legislation. The defence of irritation, as it relates to illegality, also does not come up if the contractual obligation in concern can be done in a various but lawful way (for illustration as a result of a license or exemption). Whilst not likely in a sanctions context, if the efficiency of the contract entails the functionality of an act illegal at the location of effectiveness, a celebration could then look for to rely on annoyance as a defence.

Fault of the party

Exactly where a party’s actions have triggered the frustrating event (i.e. if sanctions are imposed on a particular category of folks), it may be argued that the party’s incapacity to perform the agreement is their fault and thus does not fulfill the requirements vital to rely on the doctrine of irritation. The Court would possible be fascinated in the conditions supplying rise to the imposition of sanctions to decide if the aggravating event was “self-induced”. This is of system different from an unsanctioned get together who are not able to, for illustration, make payments below the contract for the reason that the counterparty is matter to sanctions. The Courtroom may perhaps be extra ready to take the defence of aggravation in the latter circumstance than in the former.


If a contract was executed many a long time prior to the imposition of sanctions, it appears not likely that sanctions would be held to have been foreseeable. Nonetheless, if the threat of sanctions over just one get together to the contract was generally existing (e.g. wherever a get together was presently topic to sanctions but these have now grow to be more critical or other sanctions have been imposed by distinctive nations), this could be ample for the Courtroom to come across that the sanctions ended up foreseeable.