In a contract, a weather clause can grant an extension for any delays in performance caused by unfavorable weather conditions. Or, the weather clause might deny extensions of time for delays caused by the weather. It is usually up to the contracting parties to determine and agree upon the rights or limitations stated in a weather clause.
The weather conditions referred to in a weather clause may include: unusual weather patterns, heavy rain, lightning or thunder conditions, and flooding. They may also address “acts of God” or natural disasters (unpredictable conditions such as earthquakes or tornadoes).
For the most part, weather clauses may be employed when the subject matter of the contract can be affected by weather conditions. This can include any aspect of performance, especially delivery of goods (weather conditions can delay shipping).
Another common type of contract where weather clauses are used is construction contracts. Many construction contracts contain weather clauses which either grant or deny an extension if a delay is caused by weather conditions. In many cases, a construction company may request an extension through a weather clause. This is especially common if their safety will be compromised by continuing to work through unfavorable weather conditions.
Other types of contracts that frequently involve weather clauses include:
- Contracts for the delivery of goods (Shipping contracts)
- Farming contracts
- Contracts regarding outdoor sports or athletic events
- Performance contracts for entertainers, musicians, and actors (especially for outdoor venues)
- Any contract where weather may be a deciding factor in the fulfillment of contractual duties or obligations
A weather clause should be specific and detailed so as to avoid any confusion or mistakes during contract performance. It should include the following information:
- Whether a delay is excusable or not if caused by weather conditions
- The names of the parties affected
- Dates when the clause should apply
- Consequences if the weather clause is not followed
Both parties need to absolutely clear regarding the scope and limits of any weather clause contained in a contract. Also, both parties need to consent to the clause, especially if the clause is added to the contract at a later time.
A weather clause that is included in a valid contract is generally enforceable under most state laws. This means that the parties must abide by the conditions stated in the weather clause. Failure to follow the terms in a weather clause can result in the breaching party having to pay damages for losses resulting from any delays.
For example, suppose that a construction contract contained a weather clause stating that the construction company may not be granted an extension for delays caused by weather. If the construction company then delays in their performance, they cannot claim weather conditions as a justification for the delay. They may be required to pay for any losses that their delay caused. This is especially true if the construction was indoors and not likely to be affected by weather conditions.
Other consequences of failing to observe a weather clause may include obtaining a court injunction ordering the breaching party to fulfill there duties (such as delivering goods or rendering payments). Or, if the delay was intentional or accompanied by criminal intent, the breaching party may be required to pay punitive damages.
Drafting a contract requires much foresight and the ability to anticipate events such as unfavorable weather conditions. If you need help creating or reviewing a contract, a business lawyer can be of much assistance to you. Also, if you are involved in a dispute over a weather clause, a lawyer can help you obtain the appropriate remedy in court.