Usually when people think of force majeure, they think of hurricanes and other natural disasters — not usually a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought force majeure to the forefront of legal issues.

Force majeure is a contractual concept where a party is relieved from an obligation due to forces beyond its control. This is usually contained in a contractual clause. Beyond natural disasters, think wars, civil unrest, strikes, crime.

COVID-19 is putting force majeure clauses to the test. Many companies either had to shut down or curtail operations due to government closure mandates, lack of labor, prohibitions on travel, and other factors.

The NJ Law Journal is reporting that many companies are avoiding having courts make a precedent for a force majeure event due to COVID. There are no “standard” force majeure clauses leaving a lot open to interpretation by judges and juries.

Most of the force majeure related cases are being settled. There are ongoing relationships and almost everyone recognizes the severity of the pandemic.

If you are interested in settling your COVID-19 force majeure related case and need a mediator to help, please contact me.