General areas: What is “force majeure” in Swiss law? What is its impact on contracts?

The impact of coronavirus on Swiss society no longer needs to be repeated. All players are, in one way or another, affected by this pandemic. In this article, we will talk about contracts and how this force majeure can affect their execution. 

Force majeure is a legal doctrine governed by Swiss case law. It is defined as an unforeseeable, inevitable and insurmountable event. 

Force majeure describes events for which the victims cannot be held responsible, such as a natural disaster or the Covid-19 virus. 

In case of force majeure, the signatories will be released from their obligations and responsibilities and may proceed with an extraordinary termination of the contract. 

Because of this pandemic, many contracts cannot be executed. How can force majeure be applied in this kind of situation? 

First of all, check for the presence of force majeure clauses in contracts. Many contracts contain such clauses in order to provide for specific measures. This makes it possible to organise in advance and makes it easier for the parties to take action. 

Secondly, it is important to check that the force majeure is in force and understood by all parties. This is particularly essential in international contracts, which could not give the same definition to the term “force majeure”. 

Generally speaking, it must be “objectively impossible” to fulfil the obligations of the contract. In certain cases the “subjective” impossibility is also valid.

It is important that the inability to fulfil the obligations has not been the fault of the signatories.

Proof of force majeure is essential in cases of doubt. This will help to justify the inability. 

 

There are many doubts about this unprecedented situation, also from a legal point of view. Our contract lawyers will be able to help you evaluate your documents and deal with this force majeure! 

 

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