Externally funded projects: Advice in regards to the coronavirus situation
The coronavirus/Covid-19 situation may lead to consequences for running externally funded projects. Here is some advice for project managers and partners.
How to plan for potential repercussions for you and partners
The project manager and partners are advised to consider possible consequences for the implementation plan now and regularly while the situation lasts. This should be done in close dialogue with project partners. The project coordinator has a special responsibility. Projects should:
Assess the risk for delayed or incomplete project delivery. A comprehensive assessment should be made that includes both your own work packages and partner work packages. The ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus is similar to a force majeure, that is, an unforeseeable circumstance over which parties have no control.
Assess the consequences of such conditions and possible measures that can be taken to remedy them. In agreements with the funder (where UiO is the project manager) and in the cooperation agreements between the partners, there will normally be a separate clause that regulates force majeure more closely, and often contains special rules on notification duty and other things that it is important to be aware of.
Implement efforts to stop and minimize consequences. Note that all measures must be documented thoroughly so that they may be approved by the funder. This includes financial losses, changes in budgets or plans, and more.
Assess the need for changes and adjustments in the project plan and / or project agreement / contract, and apply for this within given deadlines. If it is not possible to complete part or all of the project, see the section on force majeure, and information from the major funders in the section below. If there are any questions related to this, the Legal Group at the Department of Research Administration can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay abreast of how the funder is facilitating the handling of the situation.
Information from the largest funders
Funders are expected to provide information on their own actions to remedy the situation and policies / principles for dealing with conditions that may arise due to the coronavirus situation, such as delays, need for changes in the project, financial losses, etc.
- HORIZON 2020: EU funding
- Information in English: Covid-19 and EU-funding
- The Research Council of Norway: Changes to ongoing projects
- DIKU (Erasmus+ a.o.): DIKU has posted important information on their website (in Norwegian, but links to pdf in English) about project progress and consequences for the projects they finance. Report to DIKU if the situation requires changes in projects, or if the projects are in danger of being delayed or canceled. Also report to project partners and other relevant parties. If losses occur, try to limit these as far as possible and keep documentation.
Force majeure is a legal term intended to cover unforeseeable and extraordinary circumstances. If a party cannot fulfill its contractual obligation due to such an event a force majeure clause could provide a basis for revising or adjusting the contractual obligation, temporary suspension or cancellation of the contractual obligation if the party can no longer fulfill it. A party affected by such a relationship must notify its contracting party as soon as possible.
The ongoing outbreak of the corona virus is similar to a force majeure situation, that is, an unpredictable and extraordinary event over which the parties have no control. In agreements with the funder (where UiO is project manager) and in cooperation agreements between the partners, there will normally be a separate clause that regulates force majeure more closely, and often contains special rules on notification duty, etc., which is important to note.
There are several cumulative conditions that must be fulfilled in order to be exempt from contractual obligations under force majeure:
- Events must be unforeseeable and unavoidable and prevent the parties from fulfilling their obligations.
- The party who cannot fulfill contractual obligations must not be at fault for this.
- It cannot be possible to fulfill contractual obligations by putting reasonable measures into place.
- The force majeure event must not have been foreseeable to the party at the time the contract was signed.
It must be documented that contractual obligations cannot be fulfilled due to Force Majeure. When the agreement was made will be decisive in order to consider the terms. The party who is unable to fulfill obligations must prove that reasonable measures to fulfill the contract have been attempted. Losses incurred as a result of failure to meet contractual obligations must be limited as far as possible.
In the case of Force Majeure related to the purchase of goods and services, e.g. cancellations of travel, bookings of conference facilities, etc. see the website for the Procurement Office.