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Force Majeure Clauses in International Contracts

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Chapter Summary

Obstacles outside the control of the parties may appear in the course of performing international contracts. The goods to be delivered are destroyed by fire or lost in a shipwreck. An armed conflict prevents the construction to continue. Under such circumstances, is the obligor liable, or may he claim a cause of exoneration? What is to happen to its obligation? What happens to the contract as a whole? Practitioners engaged in international trade generally prefer to organize the consequences of such events themselves, through contractual provisions called force majeure clauses. Force majeure clauses offer very original characteristics in the practice of international contracts. This chapter provides an analytical description of the force majeure clauses, which is followed by some critical considerations. It attempts to draw up a picture of the principal elements generally present in force majeure clauses, with the numerous variations, some of them better than others.

Keywords: contractual provisions; force majeure clauses; international contracts; international trade; obligation



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