Does coronavirus (COVID-19) qualify as a biological contamination for the purposes of a definition of force majeure? Force majeure is defined as a list of events and does not have any broader wording such as ‘without limitation’ or similar?

Does coronavirus (COVID-19) qualify as a biological contamination for the purposes of a definition of force majeure? Force majeure is defined as a list of events and does not have any broader wording such as ‘without limitation’ or similar?

We have assumed that the clause in question is included in a business to business contract.

You may find the following materials useful:

• Practice Note: Discharge by force majeure which has been updated to reflect the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The section ‘Force majeure clauses—interpretation’ considers how definitions of force majeure are interpreted by the courts

• Q&As:

◦ Can my force majeure clause protect me against the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

◦ Where a force majeure event is defined as something beyond a party's reasonable control 'including but not limited to' a list of specified events, would a court consider that list as indicative of the type of event that would constitute a force majeure event?

◦ Under the JCT and NEC contracts, is the contractor entitled to an extension of time if construction works are delayed due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

◦ Can an agreement be terminated for frustration due to coronavirus (COVID-19)?

◦ Is a contractor entitled to an extension of time if construction works are delayed due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

◦ Can I rely on ‘Certificates of Force Majeure’ issued by the Chinese government confirming that coronavirus (COVID-19) is force majeure as a force majeure event under English law?

These materials consider the qualification of the meaning of ‘force majeure’ and can give you an indication of how coronavirus may be classified in a particular contract.

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