Force Majeure and Pandemic
Haitao Zhang, Director, Legal, CNPC America Ltd, Venezuela
Since the COVID-19 broke out in December 2019 in central China, the lockdown of the entire country ensued and then the disease has grown exponentially around the world thereafter. Countries all over the world have sought to impose travel bans, quarantine citizens and isolate the infected in an attempt to stop the spread of the new virus. Considering the rapid escalation of COVID-19 outside China, on March 22, 2020 World Health Organization announced the outbreak a pandemic, which together with measures taken by the authorities has devastated all kinds of businesses worldwide: workers are laid off, contracts are being suspended or cancelled, and almost everyone is in a panic mode. This is a perfect storm. What are the legal ramifications arising from the pandemic? Could the force majeure be a way for people to get out of legal troubles? How to handle the force majeure appeals in different jurisdictions, especially considering the main differences between civil law countries and common laws countries? In the context of COVID-19, this paper will explore the very concept of force majeure or similar concept(s), the conditions, and ramifications, and attitudes of courts and certain caveats as below.
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