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Commercial Litigation Contracts Landlord Tenant Law

Force Majeure and the Doctrine of Impossibility

The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in landlords and tenants closely reviewing a clause in their lease that was long considered unimportant boilerplate. Yes, we are referring to the “force majeure” provision.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in landlords and tenants closely reviewing a clause in their lease that was long considered unimportant boilerplate. Yes, we are referring to the “force majeure” provision. “Force majeure” is translated from French as “superior strength” and is often thought of an act of God or act of nature. Black’s law dictionary defines it as “a contractual provision allocating the risk of loss if performance becomes impossible or impracticable, especially as a result of an event or effect that the parties could not have anticipated or controlled.” In the coming months many conversations will take place regarding the applicability of the force majeure clause to closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the related doctrine of impossibility.

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