Force majeure—consequences and contract discharge

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Force majeure—consequences and contract discharge
  • Force majeure—meaning and nature
  • What is a force majeure clause
  • Force majeure and the doctrine of frustration
  • Force majeure—burden of proof
  • Force majeure clauses—interpretation
  • Operative verb
  • Meaning of the term 'force majeure'
  • Discretionary designation as force majeure
  • Procedural requirements
  • More...

Force majeure—consequences and contract discharge

Coronavirus (COVID-19): In addition to the below content on force majeure generally, see also:

  1. Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit—Contracts

  2. Coronavirus (COVID-19) and contractual obligations—checklist

together with the Q&A (in the related content pod on the right hand side) for specific guidance on the issues to consider if your contract is impacted by coronavirus.

This Practice Note may also be considered alongside Practice Notes:

  1. Force majeure clause analysis—a practical guide

  2. Force majeure—key and illustrative decisions

Force majeure—meaning and nature

The key features of force majeure are:

  1. a 'force majeure clause' is a contractual term providing for one (or both) parties to be excused from performance on the happening of a specified event outside the parties' control

  2. the meaning and effect of a force majeure clause depends on its wording

  3. a force majeure clause may be capable of challenge under unfair contract terms legislation, eg, under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA 1977) and, for consumer contracts, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015)

Force majeure clauses are often seen in contracts for those industries which are more typically vulnerable to catastrophic occurrences, such as:

  1. the energy industry—see Practice Note: Force Majeure in oil and gas contracts

  2. the construction industry—see Practice Note: Force majeure in construction contracts

What is a force majeure clause

In English law, the expression 'force majeure' does not refer to a legal doctrine. Instead, the expression

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