This article addresses the question of whether extreme weather events should form the basis for individuals or even the States, may be exempted from complying with its legal obligations. The old, but still very viable institution of force majeure can empower both companies and nations to absolve themselves of their responsibilities and duties. However, in a world where human-induced climate change is proven, could we say that such disasters are truly «natural»? Does it make sense, from a legal and factual matter, that they continue to allow the parties to be exempt from liability when modern science has shown that in all probability people, not some enigmatic power, have caused most universally of the problems that hold us harmless looking? Force majeure is based on the idea that the «man» somehow is separate from «nature». This article challenges this idea and argues that, in many cases, no longer makes sense to apply the institution of force majeure. At least, judges should be very careful in doing so for reasons of public policy and allocation of risks. In addition, the contracting parties must have enough caution to claim that they may be able to exempt themselves from future liability clauses appealing «force majeure».
Rethinking Fuerza Mayor in a World of Anthropogenic Climate Change, 42 Derecho & Sociedad 45
April 1, 2014