Force majeure translates literally from French as superior force. In English, the term is often used in line with its literal French meaning, but it has other uses as well, including one that has roots in a principle of French law. In business circles, “force majeure” describes those uncontrollable events (such as war, labor stoppages, or extreme weather) that are not the fault of any party and that make it difficult or impossible to carry out normal business. A company may insert a force majeure clause into a contract to absolve itself from liability in the event it cannot fulfill the terms of a contract (or if attempting to do so will result in loss or damage of goods) for reasons beyond its control.  (Thank you Merriam Webster online dictionary)
How about Covid 19? Corona Virus?
Though we are not lawyers this situation seems as it would qualify  (please check with your lawyer as it relates to your situation).  I’ll limit this post to the affect on our projects in the contractual sphere, not the tragic human toll and resulting health and economic consequences….But is it in the contract? Sadly, it was not in mine until recently. Live and learn.

Hmm,  construction is in most cases , in New York State no longer deemed an essential service during this Pandemic.  So how about Engineers and Architects?  We too are labeled essential services as part of the construction support and building code enforcement we are still open and working.  Yes, I am in the office (very lonely building) and our staff is working from home.

Contractor and vendor Delays

However, what about the construction vendors like lumber yards that are shutting down?  It follows that contractors are having a tough time getting materials.  How will this unfold – stay tuned.  This rebound will also take some time to get back to normal.  It’s also likely to throw a number of contractors, vendors and related professionals into bankruptcy since many clients will not have the money to pay for the work. Threats and Liens will be filed and it may get ugly.
Municipal Delays
Most building departments and governmental agencies are working in a reduced capacity and inspections are quite limited- creating more havoc and likely price increases.   Now imagine if this situation continues for several months, how much administrative backlog will be created? And the resulting  log-jam of permit applications, board reviews, and inspections.
Many municipal boards (i.e. Zoning Board of Appeals) are not holding , or delaying meetings and hearings until social distancing requirements have changed….
As a member of the Rye Planning Commission, we may be doing virtual Zoom meetings in the near future, but are still in the formative-exploratory stages,
Trying to keep it real.

Article by Steven Secon