Legal Implications of COVID-19 as a Force Majeure Event or Frustration of Contract

  • Praney Mehta
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  • Praney Mehta

    Student at Christ University, Delhi NCR, India

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted countless contractual arrangements worldwide, raising questions about its legal implications. Two key legal doctrines that have been invoked in response to the pandemic are force majeure and frustration of contract. Force majeure refers to a clause in a contract that excuses performance in the event of unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances, while frustration of contract is a common law doctrine that applies when unforeseen events make contractual performance impossible or radically different from what was originally contemplated. In this abstract, we will explore whether COVID-19 can be considered a force majeure event or a frustrating event, with a focus on the legal implications in contractual relationships. The argument for COVID-19 being a force majeure event rests on the premise that the pandemic is an unforeseen and uncontrollable event that renders contractual performance impossible or impracticable. Many force majeure clauses specifically list epidemics, pandemics, or acts of God as triggering events, and parties may seek to rely on these clauses to excuse non-performance or delay of contractual obligations due to the impacts of the pandemic. However, whether COVID-19 constitutes a force majeure event depends on the specific language and interpretation of the force majeure clause in each contract, as well as the applicable law and jurisdiction.On the other hand, frustration of contract may also be invoked in situations where COVID-19 has made performance of a contract impossible or radically different from what was originally contemplated. Frustration of contract does not require a force majeure clause to be present in the contract, as it is a common law doctrine that may apply even in the absence of an express clause. However, frustration of contract is generally applied narrowly and is difficult to establish, as the bar for proving frustration is high. In conclusion, whether COVID-19 constitutes a force majeure event or results in frustration of contract will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each case, including the language of the contract, the applicable law and jurisdiction, and the impact of the pandemic on contractual performance. Legal advice should be sought to properly assess the implications of COVID-19 on contractual relationships and determine the available legal remedies.




International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 3, Page 161 - 165


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