Don’t Underestimate the Force (Majeure)…and Be Sure You Understand It!

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Miles & Stockbridge – With the onset of COVID-19, there is increased attention on force majeure clauses – what they are, when they can be invoked, how they operate, and how they might change in the future. This is especially true in construction matters, where many projects have been delayed, often due to some combination of the following: government regulations and executive orders implementing quarantines, stay-at-home orders, or other restrictions; decreased workforce due to illness; unavailability of goods and materials; loss of access to certain job sites because of owner decisions to close or limit access; and other related issues. Regardless of the specific reason that prevents or delays performance, this COVID-19 pandemic is showing many involved in construction contracts—owners, general/prime contractors, subcontractors, vendors, or suppliers— the benefits of critically reviewing their contracts to  understand the effects of the presence (or absence) of a force majeure clause.

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