Every passing day brings stark new reports of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and increasing numbers of cancelled conventions, concerts, and other major events. Both the hospitality and travel industry on the one hand, and organizations that are canceling events on the other, are scrambling to understand the legal consequences of these costly terminations. Cancellation fees can be breathtaking, and affected parties are quickly learning that there are no simple answers as to whether a disease outbreak of this scope and scale falls within force majeure (or Act of God) clauses that either do not explicitly list, or arguably may never have contemplated, circumstances of this type.
Generally, force majeure clauses excuse parties’ performance under a contract when circumstances that are beyond their control arise and prevent them from fulfilling their obligations. The party electing to enforce its rights under the force majeure clause must show that the triggering event qualifies as a force majeure event, and that the event has rendered the party’s performance impossible or impracticable.
Reprinted courtesy of Lewis Brisbois attorneys Michael G. Platner, Solomon B. Zoberman and Jane C. Luxton
Mr. Platner may be contacted at Michael.Platner@lewisbrisbois.com
Mr. Zoberman may be contacted at Solomon.Zoberman@lewisbrisbois.com
Ms. Luxton may be contacted at Jane.Luxton@lewisbrisbois.com