Force majeure – now the most read clause worldwide in 2020
The unprecedented impact and knock-on effect of the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has never before focused so much attention on one of the most overlooked and least read clauses in any contract worldwide. Now the centre of attention of all lawyers, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, employers, consumers and their insurance companies in particular, is on the humble force majeure clause.
Literally meaning “superior force” in French, it is a provision which typically excuses one party or both (depending on drafting) from performance (and liability) under a contract because of events which were out of the control of the performing party and which were unforeseen. Typically this would include acts of war, strike, fire, flood, drought etc, but over the years since 9/11, more explicit events have been added to cover such totally unforeseeable incidents by including such acts as terrorism, explosion, sabotage and civil commotion. The Covid-19 pandemic now necessitates the addition of specific wording to all force majeure clauses to cover the global non-performance events which have ensued from such an unprecedented health and business catastrophe.