Quick, check your contracts for this super important clause!
You know I love a good, solid contract — but did you know that up until this darn pandemic struck, many contracts were missing one very important piece?
Yep. It was a little piece that we in the legal world once thought didn’t really apply to online businesses. But 2020 and its ensuing chaos taught us differently…
I’m talking about the FORCE MAJEURE.
Today I’m going to explain what the heck that means, why it’s soooo important these days, and (bonus!) I’m going to give you the language to add to your contracts right now, for free!
First, how do you even pronounce Force Majeure? [FARWS] + [MA] + [ZHUR]. It’s French, so feel free to get a little fancy 💫
Now, let's get down to business…what is Force Majeure and why do we need it? In French, it translates to “greater force,” and it basically refers to an act of God. As in, a force greater than we could anticipate or overcome.
In the legal world, Force Majeure is a clause in a contract that allows parties to be excused from performance due to unforeseen circumstances.
Force Majeure is kind of like your “get out of jail free” card to use when events happen that are out of your control. Examples include acts of nature such as hurricanes and floods, and acts of people such as riots, strikes and wars.
Add to that list government lock-downs, travel suspensions and other unexpected restrictions from a global pandemic. 😷
When you can’t complete your promises under a contract because of an interruption that is totally out of your control, a Force Majeure clause in your contract will release you from the obligation.
Sounds pretty important, right? So why did so many pre-covid contracts fail to include this clause?
Basically, it was the conventional belief among us lawyers that Force Majeure clauses weren’t really needed for online work. In theory, online work is flexible enough that you could still complete your obligations in spite of outside challenges.
Covid smashed that theory into pieces pretty quickly. 💥
Now, all of my contracts include a Force Majeure clause as a standard, and because you know I’m committed to making sure your business is buttoned up and tight as a drum, I’m going to give you your very own version for free.
First, open up your current agreements and scan them for your Force Majeure. Do you see one? (spoiler alert: if you’re using one of my templates from the past two years, it’s there!)
If it’s already there, yay!! Now you know a little more about why it’s there and when you may need to use it.
Good news! You can add your Force Majeure clause to any new contract going forward. If you are using one of my older contract templates, then just copy the paragraph below and insert it towards the bottom, just above the GOVERNANCE section.
In case your contract is missing this very important clause, here’s my gift to you:
Your brand new, super-powerful Force Majeure clause →
<Insert your Company name here> shall not be liable for any costs or damages due to delay or nonperformance of this Agreement due to a Force Majeure, including acts of God, acts of people, government-imposed restrictions and safety measures, quarantines, travel suspensions, and any other event beyond <insert your Company name here>’s control, whether foreseen or unforeseen.
That’s it! Now, should you ever need to terminate an agreement for qualifying reasons, you can do so with peace of mind knowing you are legally within your right to do so.
If you need my help updating your contracts, or if you have any questions about Force Majeure, just comment here or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to help!
PS - Need some of your very own top-notch contract templates, expertly drafted by yours truly? Check out my contract kits at The Legal Umbrella™ for all the details!