Q&As

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?

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Published on LexisPSL on 02/02/2017

The following Commercial Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • 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?
  • Force majeure
  • Contractual interpretation
  • Ejusdem generis
  • Contra proferentem
  • Interpreting force majeure clauses
  • Frustration

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?

Where a force majeure clause lists specific events, whether a court would consider this as indicative of the type of event constituting force majeure will largely depend on an interpretation of the particular clause, having regard to the contract as a whole and the circumstances and matters that the parties would be expected to be concerned about.

Force majeure

TThe term ‘force majeure’ is not a technical term with its own clearly defined meaning under English law. The courts have sought, through their decisions on individual cases, to give guidance as to what in specific circumstances are and are not covered by the term. However, there remains no general definition.

The term force majeure has been held in Lebeaupin v Crispin to go beyond what the courts understand by the terms, 'act of God' or 'vis major'. As a result force majeure clauses are often characterised by a list of indicative events which would constitute force majeure followed by a catch-all provision such as 'or any other event beyond the control of the affected party'. In Lebeaupin, McCardie J noted that:

‘I take it that

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