Force majeure clause. This expression covers events which are completely unforeseeable and which excuse both sides to a contract from carrying out their obligations under the contract.
Thus, if the obligation is not carried out because of force majeure circumstances, failure to carry out responsibilities would relieve both parties from liability. The phrase comes from the French language. The “force majeure” clause is a general exceptions clause, or general protective clause. The reason for the clause is that some events may be outside the control of either party to a charter. For example, a clause could state:
“Charterers and Owners exempt each other from responsibility for non-performance of this Charter when such non-performance is caused by Acts of God, Governmental or Institutional restrictions or any other cause beyond the control of either party.”
A force majeure provision does not terminate the charter, as would circumstances leading to “frustration” of the charter, but affects any liability that may arise because of non-performance.