Force majeure clauses are essential in construction contracts. Although construction professionals have back-up plans in case unexpected circumstances arise, you can’t plan for everything.
Tennessee has certainly seen more than its fair share of weather-related disasters in recent years. However, weather isn’t the only thing that can delay or derail a project. Everything from labor strikes and material shortages to disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks have affected construction projects throughout the country at one time or another.
What should the clause include?
For your force majeure (“superior force”) clause to protect you and your business, it needs to be thorough, specific and carefully crafted. Among the things that it should include are:
- Under what conditions it takes effect
- Who has to be notified when it is invoked and how soon
- The responsibilities of all parties if the clause is invoked
You’ll want to include more details that are specific to each project.
A force majeure clause doesn’t relieve you of liability for any losses to your client if you have to delay, revise or scrap a project. A client could claim that you could or should have had an alternative plan or should have anticipated the event. Maybe a strike or a supply chain issue was looming, for example. Maybe torrential rains had been predicted for the area.
It’s always best to anticipate as many potential issues as possible and, even if an unexpected event occurs, do what you can to avoid invoking this clause. Having experienced legal advice as you develop and negotiate your contracts is crucial. So is defending your business if you end up in court.