Force majeure — what does it mean and what does it cover?

By Nick Fischl

In 2012, an initial period of drought and water use restriction in certain parts of the country was followed by rainfall that made it one of the wettest years for half a century. Such conditions inevitably had an impact on food crops grown in the UK in terms of both yield and quality. Shortages or quality issues in relation to certain crops or varieties led inevitably to some price spikes, which meant that securing replacement crops at comparable prices elsewhere was difficult if not impossible. These kinds of conditions have in some cases left growers or others in the supply chain who have committed to supply a particular quantity or variety of crop at a fixed price at the beginning of the season facing serious commercial problems on two fronts. First, there will be the consequences arising from a poor crop resulting in generally poor returns. Second, there may be the prospect of defaulting on supply commitments leading to claims from the customer, whether a retailer, wholesaler or pack house, based on the additional cost that will be incurred in obtaining replacement supplies on the open market.

These kinds of weather-related issues have not surprisingly caused growers and others in the supply chain to take a careful look at their trading terms, and in particular the ‘force majeure’ clause, to see if these will excuse the supplier from meeting its obligations and hence avoiding liability for customer claims for the cost of replacement stock.

So what are the key points to consider in relation to ‘force majeure’ clauses? …

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Mills & Reeve briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • head1

    LPOver and out?

    The trend for unbundling legal work is advancing through the law firm ranks but there is still resistance in some quarters - namely in-house. We asked why


Fountain House
130 Fenchurch Street

Turnover (£m): 79.50
No. of lawyers: 367