The federal government is currently banning public and private events with more than 100 people. Events with fewer than 100 people may be held if specific preventive measures are observed. These Federal Council measures primarily affect sporting and cultural events and threaten the existence of those affected.
Who is liable if an event is canceled due to the corona virus? Contractual regulations take precedence over statutory regulations. In this respect are primarily to consult the contracts (incl. general terms and conditions) between the organizer and the supplier/participant, which often contain regulations on the cancellation or postponement of an event. However, if the contracts do not contain such provisions, it must be checked whether the contract contains a special provision for the case of force majeure, a so-called force majeure clause, contains.
A case of force majeure occurs when the events are beyond the control of one party and cannot be averted even with the utmost care. In the case of the corona virus, there is a lot to be said for force majeure if the event has to be canceled due to an official order (which is currently the case for events with 100 people). If such a clause is contractually agreed, this may lead to the termination of the contract or the suspension of contractual obligations. However, if the event is canceled voluntarily by the organizer, there is generally no case of force majeure and a force majeure clause is not applicable. However, a force majeure clause must always be interpreted in individual cases.
One has If no contractual regulation has been agreed, the law shall apply on a subsidiary basis. Here the question is easier if the authorities have issued a ban/compulsory quarantine - and more difficult if the organizer voluntarily cancels the event to protect health.
If the event has to be canceled due to an official ban, this is a case of subsequent impossibility within the meaning of Art. 119 OR. In the case of bilateral contracts, the party liable for the payment in kind (i.e. the organizer) bears this risk. The law therefore stipulates that the organizer must reimburse the service already received (e.g. ticket income). If a contractual partner has already rendered its service (e.g. delivery of food or construction of a stage), the organizer must pay for these services. Exceptions apply in the case of special contractual agreements.
If the event is canceled voluntarily to protect health (less than 100 people), the fulfillment of the contract is not actually impossible. The organizer hereby risks having to pay for further damage.
This overview is intended to provide initial orientation. It in no way replaces a more detailed clarification for the individual case.