On March 23, the COVID-19-Insolvenzaussetzungsgesetz (COVID-19 Stay of Insolvency Act) was published. The legislation is designed to help businesses that are faltering due to the coronavirus. The drastic repercussions the coronavirus pandemic is having on public life mean firms are finding themselves in serious financial difficulties, it being necessary, for instance, for them to comply with official directives. For those facing an existential threat to their businesses, the changes to the obligation to file for insolvency at least afford them significantly more time to manage the crisis.
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On March 13, Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, passed extensive changes to short-time allowance – referred to as “Kurzarbeitergeld” (or “KUG” for short). These were the first support measures introduced by the legislature to address the crisis surrounding the coronavirus. Employers seeking to apply for assistance in relation to short-time work can expect as a result of the coronavirus pandemic a business-friendly decision-making process in dealing with their employment office.
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Taxes – particularly those payable in advance, such as trade tax or income tax for freelancers and the self-employed, as well as corporation taxes for companies – frequently pose an existential threat to large and small businesses even during normal times. With the coronavirus spreading rapidly, measures that allow for the flexible payment of contributions in installments and the deferral of deadlines are being introduced to ease the burden on businesses.
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The coronavirus epidemic is disrupting the performance of supply and service contracts. The result is delayed or partial performance, and in some cases performance is no longer possible at all. Cancellations, employee-related problems, or supply chain disruptions may be just as responsible for this as official directives.
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Classifying a pandemic as “force majeure” would be uncharted territory for contract law. Yet with the consequences so serious and the countermeasures so severe, a consensus already seems to be emerging on the issue.
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Germany’s federal government is allocating 156 billion euros to support the victims of the coronavirus. This means new borrowing is inevitable. Yet the parties are in agreement.
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The coronavirus epidemic is affecting everyone. Of course, this includes banks, stock corporations, foundations, and family offices. The financial sector has to adjust to completely new – and hopefully only temporary – rules and standards.
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Deferral of social security contributions
Applying for a deferral of social security contributions ought to be a measure of last resort for businesses trying to weather the coronavirus crisis and maintain jobs. Germany’s National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, the Spitzenverband Bund der Krankenkassen, has announced that it will be quickly and unbureaucratically processing applications for deferral of payable social security contributions.
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Commercial tenancy law
With the coronavirus spreading rapidly, the key issue in commercial tenancy law is when and to what extent tenants can fall short on rent and what landlords need to know in order to avoid being left sitting on arrears for a long time or even having to worry about outright defaulting on rent.
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The coronavirus crisis
Partnerships have proven their worth in times of crisis, and we at the commercial law firm MTR Rechtsanwälte want to be a reliable partner to you at this time of crisis. We will stand by your side in difficult times, serving as a constant companion to our clients.
We will be providing daily updates on support programs, new legislation, and tax particularities on our page dedicated to the coronavirus. Of course, our lawyers also stand ready to directly advise on the issues at hand.