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What is a Force Majeure Clause?

Updated: Apr 17, 2022

Contracts contain a lot of sections, especially towards the end, that might seem overwhelming and irrelevant to the agreement itself. One of those sections is often a force majeure clause. 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 keep in there.

A force majeure clause can help the parties to a contract avoid liability if something unforeseen comes up and either delays or prevents either party from performing their portion of the contract. Many times, this clause will include unforeseen events that are caused by things such as war, fires, floods, accidents, earthquakes, inclement weather, terrorism, pandemics and acts of God.

For example, a photographer contracts with a customer to photograph the outside of the customer's house on a certain day. But someone breaks into the photographer's studio and steals the photographer's camera and related equipment, so the photographer has to reschedule. The delay prevents the customer from listing the house for sale for a week. The agreement has a force majeure clause and the photographer is probably not liable the burglary-caused delay, so long as the photographer notified the customer of the delay, the reason for the delay and provided the service at a reasonable time afterwards.

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

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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