So said the High Court* when confirming that the European Medicines Agency’s 25-year lease of premises at Canary Wharf was not “frustrated” by the EU's decision to move the Agency to Amsterdam following Brexit.

“Frustration” enables a party to get out of a contract where new circumstances make performance of that contract impossible or illegal.

The Court said that the Agency could still own and occupy property in London despite Brexit. Performance was not, therefore, “illegal” or “impossible” despite the EU requirement that the Agency needs to continue to be located within the EU post-Brexit.

The decision suggests that the courts will give short shrift to any argument that Brexit frustrates contracts. No doubt this will be a very frustrating outcome for the European Medicines Agency and there is always the possibility of an appeal. However, the English High Court has given a clear statement that, despite whatever other frustrations there may be over Brexit, it is not a frustrating event in contractual terms.

*In the case of Canary Wharf v European Medicines Agency [2019] EWHC 335

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Please contact Andrew Millross.