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On epidemic situation -- force majeure in international contract


Italy, South Korea, Iran... Just when the Chinese will win the war of anti epidemic, a small virus can't break our vast net, but start to guerrilla to other countries in the world. For many multinational companies, including Chinese enterprises, this situation does complicate international trade, investment, engineering and other economic activities.
"Is this force majeure? How to deal with it? This is an urgent and priority issue. " That's what Mr. Zhen Wei, chairman of the Organizing Committee of China Foreign Investment Cooperation Fair, said.
 Today, let's discuss the relationship between epidemic situation and force majeure. What is force majeure?
The word should come from the French "force majeure". The force in French is interlinked with English, that is, the power in Chinese. Majure in French corresponds to the word "major" in English, which means "huge". French adjectives are placed after nouns, so force majure is hard translated into corresponding English, which should be major force, such as major international companies -- large multinational companies, major changes -- important reforms, etc. In fact, there is a corresponding word in English, called "acts of God" -- natural disaster!
In the application of force majeure in international contracts, we need to know FIDIC, what is FIDIC,?
People who have done international economic and trade cooperation and other related work may know about it, FIDIC is an international agency that formulates conditions of contract recommended for construction works where tenders are invited on an international basis. FIDIC conditions of contract are also widely used in domestic projects with minor modifications. FIDIC is the abbreviation of Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils, meaning International Federation of Consulting Engineers in French. Different forms of FIDIC conditions of contract are commonly known as the Red Book, Silver Book, Yellow Book, Pink Book, Green Book, Blue Book, White Book, Gold Book etc.
With regard to force majeure, Article 19 is set forth in combination with the conditions of contract for civil engineering construction (Red Book), the terms of contract for permanent equipment and design and construction (yellow book) and the conditions of contract for design, procurement and construction (EPC) (silver book). They are: 19.1 definition of force majeure, 19.2 notice of force majeure, 19.3 obligation to minimize delay, 19.4 consequences of force majeure, 19.5 impact of force majeure on subcontractors, 19.6 independent choice of termination, payment and termination, 19.7 rescission of performance according to law.
Sub-clause 19.1 then goes on to provide a non-exhaustive list of the kind of events or circumstances that might amount to force majeure. These include:

(i) war, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), invasion, act of foreign enemies,
(ii) rebellion, terrorism, revolution, insurrection, military or usurped power, or civil war,
(iii) Riot, commotion, disorder, strike or lockout by persons other than the Contractor’s Personnel and other employees of the Contractor and Sub-contactors
(iv) munitions of war, explosive materials, ionising radiation or contamination by radio-activity, except as may be attributable to the Contractor’s use of such munitions, explosives, radiation or radio-activity, and 
(v) natural catastrophes such as earthquake, hurricane, typhoon or volcanic activity.
order to determine the force majeure, the contractor must determine that the force majeure event is included in a definition (or is similar in nature) in Clause 19.1 and that he is prevented from performing his contractual obligations because his performance has become physically or legally impossible, contrary to more difficult or unprofitable.
In the past few years, because the terrorist organizations are rampant in Iraq, Syria and other countries, resulting in a large area of paralysis of international cooperation in the region, this condition constitutes war, hostilities, terrorism and invasion, so the existence of force majeure events should be able to be met. Section 19.1 does not explicitly cover epidemics, but the new crown epidemic is exceptional in its scope and nature and must at least be controversial. In this case, the new crown epidemic may be regarded as a natural disaster, which is also force majeure.
The issues involved in overseas trade and economic cooperation are always changing. There are not only universal international norms, but also special laws and regulations in China, and even folk customs may have an impact on international cooperation. At this stage, we still hope that the enterprises concerned who are troubled by this problem can adhere to the principle of people-oriented, take the fight against the epidemic as the first, and jointly deal with the disaster of all mankind.