What is force majeure?
In French, force majeure means a superior or irresistible force. It refers to an intervening event that is beyond the control of the contracting parties and renders completion of the contract practically impossible. The typical example is a sudden natural disaster.
Even if people can predict the event, as might be the case with a civil war, if it’s beyond the reasonable control of the parties to fulfill contractual obligations, then it qualifies as a force majeure event.
In other words, the party claiming force majeure must make all reasonable efforts to lessen the effect of the event or unforeseen circumstances on their ability to deliver on the contract. If, despite these best efforts or precautions, the contract cannot be completed, they can rely on the force majeure clause.
Legal contracts can include a force majeure clause as a form of insurance. If an extreme event prevents one of the parties in a contract from fulfilling their obligations, the other party cannot hold them liable. In this case, the parties may agree to suspend contract obligations temporarily or excuse them completely. The parties won’t face the legal repercussions that typically follow after a breach of contract.