• Author Name: Kanika Tak
  • Details:  Entrepreneur, Research Associate, M.Sc. Microbiology (Gold Medalist)

Force Majeure is a word of French origin which literally means, “Superior Force”. This word has a great significance with respect to Contracts between businesses and hence finds a mention in Indian Contract Act. 

Simplifying further Force Majeure means an event which is unforeseeable and not in control of parties to the contract. It has a great significance in the current scenario during which one of the greatest pandemic in human history has brought the world to a halt. And many businesses are finding it difficult performing their obligations which they might have promised through contracts. This would mean that many contracts would be breached, there will be frustrations and litigations. 

One example could be, a product ordered by a customer on amazon for a promised delivery of a given date but could not be delivered due to the lock down. 

Can the customer hold amazon and sue in court of law? No. The order placed by the customer is actually a contract and amazon would have put a clause of Force Majeure. Which would mean that in and unforeseen circumstance they may not deliver the product on the promised date. 

Corona pandemic is that unforeseen circumstance. Force Majeure is not implied in all contracts and must be present in each contract specifically. 

Does it need to have Corona Pandemic mentioned in it? No, in most cases. An open expression of unforeseeable circumstance is enough as long as it is established that both the parties with ordinary diligence couldn’t foresee the occurrence of this event. 

So any contract which was made after the announcement of lockdown and had an open expression like this, would it have a Force Majeure? No, because a simple due diligence by any party would understand that there may be a long lasting impact of this pandemic.

In summary, we will have a lot of litigations following this pandemic which did not have the specific clause of Force Majeure. But parties to the contract should act responsible and take humane calls in cases to arise.