DIRO-Business

DIRO BUSINESS // COVID-19 - State liability - What entrepreneurs need to know.

The effects of the pandemic have affected us all around the world. This has been done with varying intensity in the individual countries. The European states have reacted to this in different ways.
 
After the focus of perception and action until the end of May was directed towards keeping the health risk in the population within limits, the question now follows in every society: How high is the damage in the individual commercial enterprises? Who has to pay for this, or is there anyone who can be asked to pay compensation for the plant closures and additional costs and thus, in the broadest sense, the economic consequences of these impairments in recent months?
 
This question will arise both in the contractual relations of companies (see Contract Law in the Corona Crisis) and in the relationship with the state. This aspect occurs because it is ultimately the state that has intervened in the rights of action of citizens and economic objects to protect the health of its population.
 
The discussion as to whether these interventions were lawful and whether claims for compensation can be asserted against the individual European states on the basis of these interventions has begun and will certainly continue for some time to come - with varying intensity in Europe. There will be legal proceedings on this issue and at some point in time this will be followed by the highest courts in the individual countries.
 
We as DIRO business law firms, who advise small and medium-sized businesses throughout Europe, would like to give you an overview on this topic of state liability. On this question of whether state liability is possible, and if so, under what conditions, you will find below contributions on the situation in the individual European countries. Get an idea of the legal situation in the individual countries and contact us if you have any questions.

You can find your personal contact person here.
DIRO_Business_Corona_Your Lawyers Corona Crisis
 

Publications

Corona crisis in Spain

 
In Spain a state of alert was declared for 15 days by royal decree of the Prime Minister on 14th March and has since been extended twice, currently until 10th May 2020.
This Real Decree provides, among other things, for a general curfew, with a few exceptions, and for the suspension of the opening of shops, cultural facilities, leisure activities and facilities, hotels and restaurants, etc.
Can shopkeepers now hold the state responsible for the damage they have suffered as a result of the closure?

Article 3 of Organic Law 4/1981 of 1 June on alerts and emergencies provides that during the state of alert, the normal rules of liability towards the State are applicable.

To this end, both Article 106 of the Spanish Constitution and Article 32 of Law 40/2015 provide that individuals are entitled to compensation from the public administration if the disadvantages suffered are the result of the normal or disrupted functioning of public administrations, except in cases of force majeure or in the case of damage which, according to the law, the person must legally bear. In any case, the alleged damage must be effective, economically assessable and individualised in relation to a person or group of persons. The corresponding limitation period is 1 year.

How do we assess the chances of success for such a lawsuit?
In December 2010, a state of alert was already declared in Spain when air traffic controllers left their workplaces closed without announcing a strike. At that time, the government declared a state of alert and temporarily closed Spanish airspace. As a result, there have been complaints from various travel agencies claiming compensation from the Spanish State for the damage caused. However, these actions were unsuccessful because the courts considered that force majeure existed. Although the dissatisfaction of the air traffic controllers was well known, this type of "wildcat" strike was not foreseeable and was considered as force majeure.

Against this background, we are of the opinion that if, in the case of an already known dissatisfaction of the pilots, the court was nevertheless of the opinion that the subsequent action was not foreseeable, this interpretation with regard to COVID-19 will come into play all the more.

Prospects of success in legal actions against concrete decisions of the state
Another question would be whether it would be possible to bring actions against the State for specific decisions where the State has at least acted negligently and has suffered specific damage as a direct consequence of those decisions. Examples of this would include
  • Complaints from health care workers who were not adequately protected, for example because the state purchased faulty mouthguards;

  • Complaints from family members of elderly people who were in old people's homes for failure to provide assistance;

  • Actions for damages resulting from decisions taken before the state of alert, such as the authorisation of rallies on 8 March, in which case direct causality will be difficult to prove



However, we are aware that lawsuits have already been filed to claim damages for damages that were caused by the allegedly late official measures.

In each case, the individual case would have to be examined and we are at your disposal.


 
 
In Spain a state of alert was declared for 15 days by royal decree of the Prime Minister on 14th March and has since been extended twice, currently until 10th May 2020.
This Real Decree provides, among other things, for a general curfew, with a few exceptions, and for the suspension of the opening of shops, cultural facilities, leisure activities and facilities, hotels and restaurants, etc.
Can shopkeepers now hold the state responsible for the damage they have suffered as a result of the closure?

Claims for compensation against the State for the COVID-19 control measures?

Author: Prof. Dr. Hanns-Christian Salger, LL.M., Attorney at Law (New York)
Bremenkamp Salger PartmbB, Frankfurt
 
Caterers, hoteliers, fitness club operators, travel agency owners and many other tradesmen in Germany have been partially or completely prevented from carrying on their trade since mid-March 2020. These measures continue to this day, at least to a lesser extent. The question arises for those affected whether these interventions trigger state liability claims.

Corona viruses do not close any businesses, have no contact bans and do not oblige anyone to wear nose-mouth protection. It is the state - in Germany the Federal Republic and the individual federal states - that imposes such measures, mainly by means of ordinances. The question arises for business people whether they can receive compensation for their often exorbitant economic losses up to the destruction of their existence.
 
Legal basis
The legal basis for compensation claims can be expropriation and intervention equivalent to expropriation. According to the older case law, two conditions had to be fulfilled for claims arising from intervention equivalent to expropriation: there must have been direct unlawful interference by a high authority in a legal position protected by Article 14 of the Basic Law (guarantee of ownership); the sovereign measure must therefore have directly caused an impairment of ownership. In this way, a special, unreasonable sacrifice for the general public (so-called special sacrifice) must have been imposed on the owner.
 
More recent case law does not require proof of a specific special sacrifice in the case of unlawful interference. Rather, the imposition of a special sacrifice can be deduced precisely and solely from the illegality of the intervention. Interventions which, if they were lawful, could certainly be regarded as a concretisation, without compensation, of the social obligation of property (Article 14.1 sentence 2,.2 of the Basic Law), then impose a special sacrifice on the person affected simply because of their illegality. The unlawfulness of the sovereign intervention thus becomes - apart from other preconditions - a characteristic that justifies the claim: All unlawful legal or real acts of public authority by which rights protected by Article 14.1 of the Basic Law are directly impaired fulfil the elements of the offence of encroachment equivalent to expropriation, irrespective of whether they are specifically directed against these rights and whether the public authority has acted culpably. According to constant case law, the rights protected by Article 14.1 of the Basic Law include the right to the established and exercised business.
 
According to the consistent case-law of the Federal Court of Justice, a formal law cannot be regarded as an encroachment equivalent to expropriation that requires compensation (BGHZ 6, 270, etc.); however, the encroachments on established and practised commercial enterprises protected by Article 14 of the Basic Law, which are justified by COVID-19, are not carried out by law, but consistently by ordinances or general rulings within the meaning of § 35 VwVfG. Nor do the persons concerned have to take priority action against these regulations. Since several million commercial enterprises were and are affected at the same time, this is neither possible nor reasonable. It is precisely for such cases that the liability institution of the expropriation-like intervention has been developed.
 
Legality of interventions in the business enterprise?
It is therefore decisive whether the interventions of public authority in established and practised commercial enterprises of the affected traders were committed by illegal legal acts.
 
The basis of the ordinances and general decrees of the federal states are §§ 5, 32 of the Law for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases in Humans (IfSG). Under Section 32 of the IfSG, the Länder are in principle authorised to issue ordinances in the context of the Corona crisis. The formal constitutional requirements for such ordinances should therefore be fulfilled.
 
However, it is highly questionable whether this also applies from a substantive law perspective:
All state action is subject to the principle of proportionality: the mildest possible means must always be used to achieve the underlying purpose of the measure. In fact, a large number of commercial enterprises have been quarantined in order to contain the pandemic. Healthy people were thus (also) prevented from carrying out their activities and not, as is traditionally the case with quarantines, only the sick or infected (or the risk groups). It is therefore often argued that there could have been milder means of combating the virus: for example, regular testing of staff, hygiene measures and measures more restricted to geographical areas. The courts will have to decide whether the orders of the federal states were proportionate.
 
Possible scope of the claim
The claim due to intervention equivalent to expropriation is directed in terms of content to compensation, not to (full) damages in the sense of §§ 249, 252 BGB. Thus, the (market) value of the expropriated substance is primarily decisive, but not the lost profit or a hypothetical development of assets. However, the result is different if compensation is to be paid due to temporary interference with an established and practiced business. A "reasonable compensation" is then the amount that the business has yielded less as a result of the intervention than it would have done without the intervention. In the end, this amounts to compensation for the lost profit.
 
Limitation period
According to § 195 BGB, claims arising from state liability become statute-barred within three years, so they would have to be asserted in court by 31 December 2022. By bringing an action, the statute of limitations according to § 204 GB is suspended.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.
 
 
Caterers, hoteliers, fitness club operators, travel agency owners and many other tradesmen in Germany have been partially or completely prevented from carrying on their trade since mid-March 2020. These measures continue to this day, at least to a lesser extent. The question arises for those affected whether these interventions trigger state liability claims.

State liability Slovakia

 
The Slovak government responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic with a rapid series of measures that resulted in the minimal spread of the disease. Although Slovakia has been described as a "success story" from a health point of view, the legality of the measures taken and thus any legal consequences for our country remain questionable.

Emergency situation
In Slovakia, the emergency situation concerning the public health threat caused by COVID-19 was declared by the Government on 12 March 2020.

Following this, schools, shops, restaurants and other service providers were gradually closed in Slovakia. In addition, public gatherings, sporting and cultural events, etc. were prohibited. At the same time, the entry of non-resident persons into Slovakia was not allowed and those persons who were allowed to cross the Slovakian state border had to undergo compulsory quarantine in a state quarantine facility.

The restrictions were put into practice mainly through measures taken by the Public Health Office of the Slovak Republic ("Health Office").

Questionable legality of the measures taken
The measures taken have seriously affected the fundamental rights of every individual and, although the medical justification of the measures taken is not even questioned, their constitutionality within the Slovak legal system is extremely problematic.
In our view, the measures adopted by the Public Health Office should be regarded as general-abstract regulations, since they should concern an undefined number of individual cases. However, for a measure to have an external impact, both formal and substantive criteria must be met. Formal criteria include, among others, the promulgation of the legislation in the Collection of Laws of the Slovak Republic.

Since the Health Department has only published the measures adopted on its website, we are of the legal opinion that they were never properly announced and therefore do not have any external effect. The problem of the measures adopted is not only the unlawful promulgation, but also the lack of authorization of the public health department to adopt general-abstract regulations. In view of the above, we consider that the measures adopted must be regarded as null and void from the outset, since they never existed.

Failure to comply with the above-mentioned obligations or restrictions is not only threatened with sanctions in the form of fines, but according to media reports at least one person has been prosecuted on suspicion of committing a criminal offence. It is legally possible and, in our opinion, also advisable to defend oneself against the fines imposed in the administrative proceedings or by means of an administrative lawsuit.

Closure of borders
Another problematic issue is the closure of the borders and the effective prohibition of entry of foreign citizens, including EU citizens, into Slovakia. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the ban was implemented on the basis of a decision of the crisis unit and internal directive of the police chief, but it was not published anywhere, not even on a website. The fact that these actions are unlawful is also shown by the reaction of the Minister of Interior, who refused to publish the documents on the basis of which the borders were closed, despite requests from journalists. Just as with the measures of the public health department already discussed, the illegality of the measures must be doubted at this point.

Compensation
The Slovak Constitution guarantees everyone the right to compensation for damage caused by an unlawful decision or action of state authorities. By law, an unlawful act is understood as any unlawful interference with the rights or legally protected interests of natural and legal persons. In practice, this means that the owners of the unfairly closed shops or service facilities are able to claim compensation (including loss of profit) resulting from the unlawful interventions of the authorities.

Claims for damages against the Slovak state are to be filed primarily with the competent authorities, especially ministries, during the so-called preliminary meeting. If the claim for damages is not satisfied within six months of the date of notification by the competent authority of the request for the preliminary interview, the claimant shall have the right to take legal action.

Prospects of success
In view of the above, we consider the prospects of success of the actions against Slovakia for damages caused by the unlawful measures to be positive. In any case, these are to be checked in each individual case, for which we are at your disposal.
 
The Slovak government responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic with a rapid series of measures that resulted in the minimal spread of the disease. Although Slovakia has been described as a "success story" from a health point of view, the legality of the measures taken and thus any legal consequences for our country remain questionable.

State Liability and the Covid-19 Pandemic in Poland

 
There have been a flurry of regulations and measures imposed by governments worldwide to mitigate the adverse effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some governments have introduced soft (relatively relaxed) measures and some have adopted strict rules to fight the Pandemic.

The potential liability of governments in the light of such measures and regulations may be discussed within two aspects: Firstly, state liability may be assessed with regard to negligence and omissions for addressing the threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic in a timely manner or with regard to a state’s failure to protect health and human beings. Secondly, the liability of governments can also be considered regarding damages caused by the measures to fight the COVID–19 Pandemic while requesting the closure of cafes and restaurants, ordering lockdowns of businesses and schools. This article discuss the second aspect of this issue.

State liability (Poland)
In response to the COVID–19 pandemic, the Polish government implemented many legal regulations that seriously limited constitutional rights. However, the Polish government did not introduce a constitutional state of emergency, which is associated with specific regulations regarding the State's liability for damages suffered by third parties. Instead, the government introduced an epidemic status on the basis of the Act on preventing and combating infections and infectious diseases in humans of December 5, 2008 (Journal of Laws No. 234, item 1570 as amended), effective from 20/03/2020. On the basis of the Act, many restrictions on constitutional rights were introduced by means of government ordinances. Therefore, the government's liability for damages inflicted upon third parties in connection with the restriction of constitutional rights is based on the general principles set out within the Polish Civil Code.
 
Sources of damage during the epidemic
The applicable law provides for the responsibility of public authorities for so-called legal damages, and therefore for the lawful actions of state or local government authorities that caused property damage. This liability is exceptional and requires each time to identify the specific legal basis of the claim, which guarantees compensation for the damage in a specific case. Due to the prevailing pandemic, the primary source of damage should be seen as imposing numerous restrictions. This group of restrictions includes, in particular, all bans and restrictions on running a business (restrictions on working in shopping malls, closing gastronomic or hairdresser's premises, etc.), referring doctors to work in a contagious hospital or introducing obligatory expenses for persons and companies conducting business services (purchase of safety measures).
 
Examples and types of damage during the COVID– 9 Pandemic
Generally, according to Article No. 361 § 2 of the Polish Civil Code, the obligation to repair damage covers two forms of damage: real damage (damnum emergens) and lost benefits (lucrum cessans) unless the law or contractual provision provides otherwise. Real damage (damnum emergens) referrs to a loss of property and should be understood as a decrease in assets or an increase in liabilities, while lost benefits (lucrum cessans) are hypothetical benefits that a legal entity expected and failed to achieve due to the fact someone did not fulfill his obligation and thereby caused damage preventing  the legal entity from obtaining these benefits. For example, lost benefits may be  lost profits by entities whose activities have been banned under the regulations introduced by the government, while real damage may be expenses incurred to provide protection measures as directed by the government (such as purchase of additional protective measures due to an obligation resulting from a legal provision.)
 
However, even if it is possible to determine the source of the damage, the damage itself and its amount, it is currently difficult to clearly indicate the actual legal basis of the State's liability for damages arising during a pandemic. Currently, the State's responsibility for the damage caused by  limitations of constitutional rights and freedoms connected with the regulations introduced in the aftermath of the epidemic can be based mostly on the general provisions of the Civil Code, i.e. Articles  417-4172 of the Polish Civil Code.
 
Article No. 417 § 1 and 2 of the Polish Civil code indicate the responsibility of the State or local government unit or other legal person exercising public authority under the law for all unlawful acts or omissions connected with exercising  public authority. This basis of liability may relate to the issuance by the public authorities of orders that do not constitute a normative act.
 
The provision mentioned above does not apply to damage related to issuing a normative act (which also includes ordinances issued by the government) which, pursuant to Article No. 4171 § 1 of the Polish Civil Code, can be claimed after establishing in the appropriate proceedings that this particular normative act does not comply with the Polish Constitution, a ratified international agreement or an Act (Polish: “ustawa” - a general normative act issued by the Parliament). Considering the above, unless the Polish Constitutional Court decides that a particular normative Act has been issued in violation of the law, it is unfounded to claim damages, although many representatives of the doctrine and some judgments are of opinion that common courts may consider a specific normative act issued in violation of the law unconstitutional under the so-called 'distributed constitutional review'. It should be noted that pursuant to the Supreme Court's judgment of 28 November 2008, V CSK 271/08, judgments of the European Court of Human Rights  also have a prejudicial meaning. If a certain act or omission of the government had already been judged as contrary to the European Charter on Human Rights by the European Court of Human Rights, it is not necessary  to wait for the Polish Constitutional Tribunal's judgement. Nevertheless, there are many indications that some regulations restricting the conduct of specific types of business activities (e.g. hotel, hairdressing or cosmetics) are unconstitutional and could be  considered unconstitutional by the Polish Constitutional Court. First of all numerous restrictions on constitutional rights and freedoms were introduced by means of ordinary government ordinances,, which is contrary to Article  31 section 3 of the Polish Constitution, which states that limiting constitutional rights is possible only in an Act (issued by the parliament). The government would be entitled to limiting constitutional rights via ordinary ordinances if an emergency state would be imposed, which never happened. Moreover, some limitations of constitutional rights implemented by ordinances were introduced in excess of the authorization given by Acts issued in accordance with the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
Another basis of the State's reliability is stated in Article No. 4172  of the Polish Civil Code, which  also allows a claim for personal injuries even for the lawful operation of a public authority, if it is justified by considerations of equity. The provision is appliable, when the State cannot be charged with unlawful conduct while exercising public authority and it would be wrong for the effects of the damage to be borne solely by the injured party. However the provision concerns only personal injuries and it needs to me emphasized  that according to the Polish jurisprudence the provision should be applied exceptionally.
 
Summary
In conclusion, it seems that the Polish law system may justify actions for damages involving damage related to the government's limitations of constitutional rights implemented by Covid –19 regulations although a constitutional state of emergency was not introduced. However, it needs to be emphasized that before filing a lawsuit it is necessary to analyze every case thoroughly in the context of the jurisprudence of Polish courts and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
 
Should you seek further legal advice on this subject, please contact as at the following email address: office@drlewandowski.eu.
 
There have been a flurry of regulations and measures imposed by governments worldwide to mitigate the adverse effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some governments have introduced soft (relatively relaxed) measures and some have adopted strict rules to fight the Pandemic.

The potential liability of governments in the light of such measures and regulations may be discussed within two aspects: Firstly, state liability may be assessed with regard to negligence and omissions for addressing the threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic in a timely manner or with regard to a state’s failure to protect health and human beings. Secondly, the liability of governments can also be considered regarding damages caused by the measures to fight the COVID–19 Pandemic while requesting the closure of cafes and restaurants, ordering lockdowns of businesses and schools. This article discuss the second aspect of this issue.

COVID-19 AND THE POSSIBLE LIABILITY OF THE STATE OF AUSTRIA FOR THE MEASURES TAKEN

Author: Dr. Christof Stapf, lawyer, insolvency administrator, Stapf Neuhauser Rechtsanwälte OG, Austria
 
The first measures adopted to restrict corona virus entered into force on 16 March. As a result, further legal provisions were added, which included further restrictions on daily life and entrepreneurs. In mid-April, the first relaxation of the measures was introduced, which have been further relaxed to date.

Legal basis
In Austria, possible compensation claims would have been provided for under the existing Epidemic Law. However, the COVID-19 regulations led to an exclusion of the compensation claim of a farm that was not allowed to open up on the basis of the COVID-19 measures.
The compensation claims under the Epidemic Law would have to be filed with the competent district administrative authority.
Whether the exclusion of the compensation claim was in conformity with the constitution cannot be conclusively assessed at this point in time, as the Constitutional Court will first decide on the conformity of the measures taken with the constitution.
Consequently, the further measures taken on the basis of COVID-19 will also have to be examined by the Constitutional Court.
However, it must be generally noted that Austrian public law does not, in principle, provide for a general right to compensation for unconstitutional laws.
 
Public law provides for the possibility of a claim for damages if an institution has acted unlawfully by way of official liability and, as a consequence, there are doubts as to the legality of the regulation. The Constitutional Court will also have to determine whether these conditions are met in this form.
 
Prospects of success
Only after the decisions of the Constitutional Court will it be possible to assess the extent to which possible compensation claims can be made against the Austrian state.

Otherwise, due to the complex legal starting position, an individual examination of the facts will be necessary, for which we will be glad to be at your disposal: wien@snwlaw.at.
 
The first measures adopted to restrict corona virus entered into force on 16 March. As a result, further legal provisions were added, which included further restrictions on daily life and entrepreneurs. In mid-April, the first relaxation of the measures was introduced, which have been further relaxed to date.

Claim for compensation against the State in connection with COVID-19
Czech Republic - Status 30.6.2020

Author: Mgr. Robert Tschöpl, advokát, Tschöpl & Partner, advokáti, Rechtsanwälte, Attorneys at Law, Czech Republic
 
On 12. 3. 2020 a state of emergency was declared in the Czech Republic in connection with the global pandemic COVID-19. Within the framework of this state of emergency, numerous and extensive measures were taken, which were necessary to slow down the spread of the pandemic. However, on 1 July 2020 the last wave of relaxation and at the same time the "re-start of the economy" took place. However, the question of who should pay for the damage caused still remains. The Government of the Czech Republic acts according to Act No. 240/2000 Coll. Crisis Act, which provides an answer to this question.

According to Section 36(1) of the Crisis Act, the State is liable for damage caused to legal entities and natural persons in causal connection with crisis measures in conformity with the Act.

This extraordinary institution links the state to a responsibility without regard to fault, so-called objective responsibility, which does not require a direct action that has led to the damage. This, in turn, is stated in the Act on State Liability for Damage, which in that case does not require an unlawful decision or an incorrect official procedure. On the contrary, one should assume that crisis measures have been properly implemented and applied and do not pose a threat to society. However, this extraordinary responsibility is based on the fulfilment of three conditions, the burden of proof being on the injured party:
  • Implementation of a crisis measure

  • occurrence of damage

  • Causal link between the crisis measure and the occurrence of the damage


The State can only be relieved of liability if it proves that the injured party caused the damage himself. The amount of compensation is in no way limited and is therefore paid in its entirety both for the actual damage and for loss of profit. In this case, too, the general principle of the obligation to minimise damage exists, so the injured party is obliged to take or reduce reasonable measures to avert damage - a conference should be postponed to a later date, purchased food should be resold or distributed to employees. It is important to be able to prove that the damage could not be prevented despite all the measures taken. As far as immaterial damage is concerned, Section 36(3) of the Crisis Act refers only to certain extraordinary cases, which have prescribed a specific method of resolution.

The biggest question mark is the causal connection. In principle, the state is not responsible for damage caused by the global pandemic, but only for damage directly related to the existing crisis measure. Thus, no compensation can be claimed if consumers buy certain goods less, but for example if a celebration in a restaurant had to be cancelled due to the crisis measures and the restaurant had to close.

However, if all conditions are met, claims can be made to these authorities within these time limits:
The right to compensation, stating the reasons, must be claimed in writing to the competent crisis management authority within 6 months of the date on which the damage became known, and no later than 5 years after the damage occurred - otherwise the claim will lapse. The competent crisis management authority is the body which adopted the crisis measure. Thus, it may be the Government of the Czech Republic, ministries, regional offices or town halls, whereby the Government and regional offices have no legal subjectivity and are therefore mere state bodies that cannot be held liable for damages. Depending on the crisis measure in question, one should therefore contact the issuing ministry or body responsible for processing an application. In case of refusal to pay damages, a civil action should be brought against the state represented by the Ministry of Interior. However, the court application is not exempt from court fees, so it is necessary to consider the amount of the claim.

Besides this claim, companies can also request other ways of compensation from the state, such as from the "Antivirus" program, which we have already reported on.

We will be happy to answer any questions you may have in this regard.
Tschöpl & Partner, advokáti, attorneys at law
Mgr Robert Cöpl, advokát


 
 
On 12. 3. 2020 a state of emergency was declared in the Czech Republic in connection with the global pandemic COVID-19. Within the framework of this state of emergency, numerous and extensive measures were taken, which were necessary to slow down the spread of the pandemic. However, on 1 July 2020 the last wave of relaxation and at the same time the "re-start of the economy" took place. However, the question of who should pay for the damage caused still remains. The Government of the Czech Republic acts according to Act No. 240/2000 Coll. Crisis Act, which provides an answer to this question.