20
Jul

As we discussed in Part One of this blog post, “force majeure” clauses are commonplace in business contracts, and virtually every force-majeure clause includes express provision for some or all natural disasters, along with civic, bureaucratic, and military disruptions. But the pandemic has caused many disruptions that cannot be attributed to an act of government; as the nation reopens, it is likely that those disruptions will continue for some time.  One of a two common catch-all provisions in force-majeure clauses ...

10
Jul

In a prior post, this blog explored a range of defenses to contract claims brought in the wake of nonperformance caused by the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  This post examines one such defense in detail—the force majeure defense—and how the unique circumstances of the pandemic may impact attempts to assert or defeat such a defense. So-called “force majeure” clauses are commonplace in business contracts.  A typical force-majeure clause has three main features: (1) a list of enumerated events, (2) ...

06
May

The impact of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been felt across all industries.  Government-ordered shutdowns of non-essential work closed many businesses.  Those that continue (and perhaps even grow) nonetheless suffer from COVID-19 related disruptions.  As a result, many companies and individuals are struggling or unable to fulfill their contractual obligations. Lawyers have written extensively about the force majeure provisions in some contracts that explicitly excuse performance when extraordinary events within their scope preclude performance.[1]  Depending on the ...

25
Jun

In this era of tightening federal budgets and periodic government shutdowns, there can be no guarantee that any particular federal courthouse will be open for business—or even in existence—at the time an agreement spawns litigation. Under a recent Ninth Circuit decision, such a closure could be more than inconvenient: it could cut off a party’s bargained-for access to federal court. In a matter of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that a venue-selection clause ...