Energy Contracts: In-House Counsel, Force Majeure, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Alerts / March 31, 2020

COVID-19 is disrupting contracts in our energy industries, impacting electric power and petroleum, and both product providers and service providers. Contracts will be breached. The phrase “force majeure” will be top of mind.

This paper is not legal advice. It simply reminds in-house counsel how the law treats contract disruptions and what questions are likely to be on a tribunal’s mind if the dispute ends up in court or arbitration. The goal is to make it easier for in-house counsel to identify key legal issues when advising a client on whether compliance with the contract may be suspended.

Our approach reviews precedents from 12 jurisdictions, two hypothetical fact patterns and two hypothetical provisions in energy contracts. We review California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania and maritime law.

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Authorship Credit: Zach Bernard, Tom Donaho, John English, Kristin Kluding, Poe Leggette, Erika Lindberg, Adam Park, Shanisha Smith, Matt Tedder, Tess Wafelbakker, James Winton and Erica Youngstrom

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