A force majeure clause expressly provides for certain circumstances that excuse a party or both parties from not performing the contract. Usually, force majeure clauses excuse performance for occurrences of things "beyond the control" of the parties. Many contracts include such clauses to provide for unexpected situations.
Force majeure clauses specify certain excuses that justify not performing a contract. Common force majeure clauses address issues such as:
- Acts of nature – Floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are the most common occurrences in force majeure clauses
- Governmental regulations – Force majeure clauses will often allow for cancellation of a contract if a governmental regulation hinders or prevents performance of a contract
- Labor issues – Strikes, riots and labor disputes
- Acts of terrorism or civil disorder
- Any other cause that may be beyond the control of the parties
A force majeure clause is often considered an "exculpatory" clause, meaning that these clauses relieve a party from not performing an obligation. Courts generally don’t favor such clauses but will often enforce them. As long as no contractual laws are violated, people can make conditions in contracts in any manner they wish.
An experienced business attorney can be very helpful in a contractual matter. Whether you need a contract drafted, want to modify an existing contract, or have been sued for breaching a contract, an attorney can inform you of your options. Depending on the situation, an attorney can help you create, enforce, or invalidate a force majeure clause in your contract.