Force majeure is a legal term that refers to unforeseeable circumstances or events beyond the control of the parties involved in a contract, and which make it impossible or extremely difficult for one or both parties to fulfil their obligations under the contract. These circumstances or events are often “acts of God” or “acts of nature.” Force majeure events can include natural disasters (such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes), war, terrorism, government actions (such as expropriation or embargo), and other unforeseen circumstances that are out of the control of all parties.

When a force majeure event occurs, it may excuse one or both parties from performing certain obligations under the contract, or it may provide temporary relief from contractual deadlines or penalties. However, the specific consequences of a force majeure event depend on the language of the contract and the applicable laws.

Key aspects of force majeure include:

Clause in Contracts: Force majeure clauses are commonly included in contracts to address unforeseeable events that could affect the parties’ ability to perform their contractual obligations. These clauses typically outline the specific events or circumstances that constitute force majeure, the procedures for invoking the clause and the consequences for both parties.

Notification Requirements: Contracts with force majeure clauses often require the party affected by a force majeure event to provide prompt notice to the other party. This allows both parties to assess the situation and consider alternative courses of action.

Impact on Contract Performance: Depending on the language of the contract and the nature of the force majeure event, the consequences for contract performance can vary. In some cases, the affected party may be excused from performance entirely, while in other cases, performance may be temporarily suspended until the force majeure event is resolved.

Legal Implications: Disputes over force majeure clauses can arise if parties disagree about whether a particular event qualifies as force majeure or the extent to which the contract obligations are affected. In such cases, resolution may involve legal interpretation of the contract language and consideration of applicable laws.