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What is a Force Majeure Clause?

Updated: May 20

Contracts contain a lot of clauses that might seem overwhelming and irrelevant to the agreement itself. Towards the end of any business contract, a force maeure clauses typically comes up. So what is it? In this blog post, I will explain what a force majeure clause is, why it's often in agreements and how it can be important to include in your contract.

Force majeure clauses should be included in contracts

Force majeure means "superior force" in French. A force majeure clause can help the parties to a contract avoid liability if an unforeseen event arises and either delays or prevents either party from performing their portion of the contract. Many times, this clause will include unforeseen events caused by "Acts of God" (e.g., fires, floods, accidents, earthquakes, inclement weather, pandemics) or extreme human-made events (e.g., war or terrorism).

Let's consider an example where a photographer contracts with a customer to photograph the outside of the customer's house on a certain day. Before it's time to photograph the house, someone breaks into the photographer's studio and steals the photographer's equipment, so the photographer has to reschedule. This delay prevents the customer from listing the house for sale for a week. Without a force majeure clause, the photographer would be liable for damages resulting from a breach of contract. However, with a properly drafted force majeure clause, the photographer protects themselves from liability resulting from the delay, so long as the photographer notifies the customer of the delay, the reason for the delay and provides the service at a reasonable time afterwards.

There are many other situations where a force majeure clause might be important. Although it may seem unnecessary, parties should keep it in their agreements and ensure it is well drafted.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

The information provided on my blog is not legal advice and should not be relied on as legal advice. Anyone reviewing this post should use it as only a first step in understanding how a force majeure clause works. You should consider consulting with a lawyer when drafting a contract.

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