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Can hurricanes feature in contracts?

Yes they can! Odd as that may seem, typically towards the end of a contract you will find the so-called ‘boiler plate’ clauses. Most peoples’ eyes are glazing over by this point and don’t pay much attention to them. However, they contain some really useful rights and clarifications. One such clause is the ‘Force Majeure‘ clause. In a nutshell, it states that should an event beyond the control of the parties occur such as a flood, lightning strike, hurricane, terrorist act etc then the parties will be given more time to perform their obligations. If the event carries on beyond an agreed period-typically 30 to 60 days- the parties can also agree to end the contract without penalty.

Hurricane Sandy

Force Majeure strikes! Photo courtesy of 6abc Action News

BE CAREFUL though: some parties try to sneak in events which arguably are within their control such as stock shortages or their staff going on strike. Some would say that stock shortage is just down to bad planning and that staff strikes are equally as a result of the employer’s bad behaviour and totally within the business’s control.

So make sure you read your contract to the end! You may find some interesting little twists…

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