Analysing the Scope of Force Majeure in the Light of Covid-19.

Deborshi Sarkar and Ridhima Mehrotra
Symbiosis Law School, Noida, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

The outbreak of the COVID-19 disease has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 1, 2020. The outbreak has not only affected humans but has also resulted in a global economic shock. The need to maintain social distancing and lockdown has resulted in slow operations of many businesses and has ultimately affected the diverse commercial contracts. In such circumstances a force majeure clause is considered to be a strong defense against such unavoidable and unforeseeable events and helps parties discharge their contractual obligations wholly or partly without making them liable for non-performance of their contractual obligations.

Through this article, the authors would try to analyse the scope of force majeure clause in diverse contracts, in the light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and related governmental measures to curb it. In the similar context, the authors would further elucidate the various criteria that companies must fulfil in order to successfully invoke the force majeure clause in their contracts in the present situation of Covid-19 pandemic. The article further tries to enquire about the possible steps to be taken if a force majeure clause is absent in a contract and is also suggestive about the course that should be followed before invoking a force majeure clause. The hypothesis of the article defines how COVID-19 triggers the force majeure clause. The authors have also tried shedding light on how is India dealing with force majeure clause in diverse contracts including real estate contracts, supply chain contracts, employment contracts, Insurance contracts etc.

Keywords- COVID-19, pandemic, contractual obligations, worldwide, economic impact, social distancing, lockdown, commercial contract, force majeure clause, India.