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What does “Force Majeure” mean?

Crucially the phrase “force majeure” has no specific meaning in English law. As a result, there is scope for complex legal argument, including as to whether the effects of the coronavirus outbreak can amount to force majeure in the first place. If the coronavirus crisis deepens, force majeure provisions could become relevant in the following ways:

  • suppliers to your business might seek to invoke force majeure
  • you may need to invoke force majeure under your own contracts

Each of these will need careful analysis of the relevant contract against the applicable factual background. Unfortunately, the position is unlikely to be clear cut.