News

News

Michael Houghton Appointed Chair of National Law Group’s New Study Committee on Mitigation of Public Health Emergency Business Disruptions

Wilmington, DE (May 4, 2020) – Michael Houghton, a partner with Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, has been appointed Chair of the new Uniform Law Commission (ULC) Study Committee on Mitigation of Public Health Emergency Business Disruptions.

The new committee will study the need for and feasibility of one or more uniform state laws providing special rules and procedures to mitigate the impact of an epidemic, a pandemic, or other public health emergency on the operation of businesses.  The committee will consider topics including:

  • The use of special non-liquidating receivership programs to enable court supervision of businesses adversely affected by an epidemic, a pandemic, or other public health emergency;
  • A requirement that insurers allow business interruption claims based on epidemic, pandemic, or other public health emergency-related closures, with the government underwriting the insurers (and paying a fee for having the insurers act as claim processors for the government);
  • The application of force majeure and impossibility doctrines to contractual performance during an epidemic, pandemic, or other public health emergency; and
  • Other measures that might mitigate the impact on businesses.

This new study committee is one of three new study committees recently appointed by the Uniform Law Commission to address various legal issues relating to the current COVID-19 crisis and to address future epidemics and pandemics.  The other two study committees are the Study Committee on Public Health Emergency Authorities and the Study Committee on State Governance during Public Health Emergencies.  Each of the new study committees will report to the Scope and Program Committee by July 7, 2020, as to whether acts in any of these areas is merited.

Founded in 1892, the Uniform Law Commission is an organization of more than 350 practicing attorneys, judges, law professors, legislators and other state officials - all lawyers. Commissioners to the ULC are appointed by every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws - laws designed to solve problems common to all the states.  Commissioners donate their time as a pro bono public service.  Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has promulgated more than 300 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Probate Code, and Uniform Partnership Act.

Mr. Houghton has been a uniform law commissioner representing Delaware since 1995.  He previously served as the ULC’s President from 2011-2013.  He also served as Chair of the ULC Executive Committee, which is the governing body of the ULC and is responsible for implementing policies adopted by the Commission at its meetings, and Chair of the Scope and Program Committee, the committee which recommends the study and drafting projects which the ULC should undertake.  Most recently he served as Chair of the Drafting Committee to Revise the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Mike is also a Trustee of the Uniform Law Foundation.

In addition to ULC, Mr. Houghton has served in numerous leadership roles with both Delaware and national business and professional organizations. He is a Past President of the Delaware State Bar Association and member of the board of the Delaware Bar Foundation. He was appointed in 2017 by Delaware Governor John Carney to serve as Chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (“DEFAC”). Mike is a former member of, and now serves as counsel to, the Board of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Board of the Delaware Public Policy Institute, the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, Artesian Resources Corporation and the Rockefeller Trust Company of Delaware. In his legal practice, he represents state entities and agencies as well as utilities, banks and various other entities in state and local regulatory matters.

Further information on all current drafting and study committees, as well as information on the Uniform Law Commission, can be found at the ULC's website at www.uniformlaws.org.

About Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP

Morris Nichols combines a broad national practice of corporate, intellectual property, business reorganization and restructuring, commercial law and litigation with a general business, tax, estate planning and real estate practice within the State of Delaware. The firm is regularly involved as lead counsel or co-counsel in matters of national and international significance, as well as those affecting its immediate community. Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.