COVID-19 and Force Majeure in International Commercial Contracts

Written by: John E. Parkerson, Jr., Esq.

Force majeure clauses often are ignored as simple boilerplate of little importance relative to the underlying “business deal.”  Not to unduly alarm, but a force majeure clause is important, especially during times like those we are experiencing.  This clause generally includes language that defines the kinds of occurrences that constitute instances where performance is excused or temporarily impossible.   Our contracts generally include force majeure clauses; but let’s work together going forward to ensure that the bases are covered sufficiently, with specific reference to health crisis or pandemics.  Ask yourself whether the definition includes, among other things, references to natural disasters, plague, epidemics, or government measures.  The transactional attorneys at Hall Booth Smith will take a quick look at any contracts you may wish us to examine in order to determine whether to recommend amendment or, at a minimum, notice to the other party requesting that it confirm application of force majeure to the contract’s obligations.

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