Force majeure is a rarely invoked clause in many contracts. It frees all parties from obligations during the time of some major catastrophe beyond their control, such as war, strikes, riots, crimes, or so-called acts of God (earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, epidemics, and so on). It seems that some Chinese shipyards and ports are applying for papers from The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade stipulating force majeure conditions.
This would potentially allow ocean carriers to cancel ship runs, lengthening supply chain transit times for cargoes. There are already long delays. The extension of Chinese New Year to give more time to adjust to the Coronavirus outbreak also introduces delays.
It’s hard to say how such a clause would affect IMO2020 compliance. Shipyards will be closed, preventing scrubber installations, and so there will be long delays in fitting out ships with required scrubbers. This may go on a lot longer than anyone thinks, since backlogs were already long on scrubber installations. I doubt that IMO2020 rules on low-sulfur fuel use will be changed to accommodate force majeure, so carriers will simply have to do with fewer ships than they planned for. Shippers, their customers, will take the hit.
FEBRUARY 4TH, 2020
via Coronavirus sparks force majeure conjecture – Splash 247
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