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Force Majeure

Many of you may have come across ‘Force Majeure’ clauses in agreements. They tend to be one of the so called ‘boilerplate'(standard) provisions toward the end of most agreements. They are rarely given much attention and are often regarded as legal verbiage.

What is Force Majeure?

A French term meaning ‘superior or irresistible force’, it is a clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from their liabilities when an event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, act of God etc prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. It is generally intended to cover events/circumstances beyond the reasonable control of a party.

It is worth spending a little time on the Force Majeure provision to ensure that it covers potential events/circumstances which may occur to one or both of the parties to the Agreement. Drafters of agreements often insert a ‘catch-all’ phrase such as ‘any event beyond the reasonable control of the parties…’. However, beware, where this phrase comes after a list of events, a court may consider that the catch-all phrase should be restricted to events similar/comparable to those listed.

What if there is no Force Majeure Clause?

If there is no express clause in your agreement, then the doctrine of ‘frustration’ may apply. The requirements to establish ‘frustration’, however, are quite high so it is advisable to insert a Force Majeure clause.

This should not be relied upon for legal advice. If you would like any further information or advice please email

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