Force Majeure in California: Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Qualify?
A Three Part Series
By Stan Gibson
Part 1 – What Constitutes a Force Majeure
The ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic is disrupting day-to-day operations, supply and delivery chains and general contractual obligations around the world and throughout California. Many companies and individuals are facing unprecedented situations and demands. In the midst of all this you may be wondering what effect, if any, the COVID-19 Pandemic will have on your, and other parties’, contractual obligations. You may have heard people throwing around the term “force majeure” as a reason for excusing performance or terminating a contract. But what does that term mean? And how does it work in California? The purpose of this series of articles is to answer these questions and more.
Although these are unprecedented times, the disruption caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic alone, may not be sufficient to excuse performance under a contract. Before making or responding to any claims of impossibility of performance due to the current situation you should carefully review the terms of your contract. Bear in mind that you, or another party, will not be excused from performance simply because performance is more difficult or expensive than anticipated. If faced with a claim of inability to perform by another party, you should ask yourself whether you are willing and able to continue performing your own contractual obligations before asserting that they are in breach. A party suing for breach of contract must be able to show that it was capable of holding up its end of the contract.