Does COVID-19 amount to a Force Majeure

24 Apr 2020 4:38 pm by Derek Harms

Does COVID-19 amount to a Force Majeure?

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.”

Force majeure  – or vis major (Latin) – meaning "superior force", also known as cas fortuit (French) or casus fortuitus (Latin) "chance occurrence, unavoidable accident", 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, epidemic 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. In practice, most force majeure clauses do not excuse a party's non-performance entirely, but only suspend it for the duration of the force majeure.[1]

Click here to download a comprehensive write up by one of South Africa’s leading legal minds D R Harms SC, ADVOCATE OF THE HIGH COURT OF RSA, SOLICITOR OF ENGLAND & WALES and MEMBER OF THE CHURCH SQUARE ASSOCIATION OF ADVOCATES

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_majeure.

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