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COVID-19 could lead to substantial losses being suffered by parties as a result of non-performance, but reliance on force majeure in such cases will depend on how it has been defined in their commercial agreements and what steps they have taken to mitigate the losses.
Force majeure is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, plague, or an event described by the legal term act of God (hurricane, flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.
A force majeure is generally defined as “an act of God or man that is unforeseen and unforeseeable and out of the reasonable control of one or both of the parties to a contract, and which makes it objectively impossible for one or both of the parties to perform their obligations under the contract.”