In light of the unprecedented challenges faced by the shipping industry in recent years, BIMCO has recently released its long-awaited model force majeure clause for inclusion in charterparties and other shipping contracts.

Reed Smith first reported on the clause in January 2021 in our article All eyes on BIMCO’s new clauses .  

Now that the clause is finally here, what does it say and how can it support the industry?

The context

BIMCO’s new clause aims to provide a comprehensive regime for parties to follow if certain circumstances arise, beyond their reasonable control, that prevent performance of a charterparty or other shipping contract. Force majeure clauses in carriage contracts are traditionally quite rare, with English law preferring to treat the issue as one of risk allocation.

A clearly drafted force majeure clause offers a party the flexibility to suspend performance, and potentially terminate a contract, without, in theory, facing a claim from the unaffected party for breach of contract.

Continue Reading Expecting the unexpected – BIMCO releases force majeure clause

Welcome to our new series of ‘back to basics’ blogs in which we will provide blogs focused on common legal issues. This blog post will address force majeure and frustration, two concepts which charterers have regularly relied on since the presence of COVID-19, often with varying degrees of success.

General Rule

English law generally holds parties who have contracted to do something accountable even where subsequent events make performance challenging or expensive. Nevertheless, two exceptions can often be invoked, frustration and force majeure. It is important to note that under English law force majeure only applies if there is a specific clause within a contract that provides for it, while frustration is a common law doctrine. There has been renewed interest on force majeure, in particular, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading Force majeure and frustration