Force Majeure and Pandemic

Haitao Zhang, Director, Legal, CNPC America Ltd, Venezuela

Since the COVID-19 broke out in December 2019 in central China, the lockdown of the entire country ensued and then the disease has grown exponentially around the world thereafter. Countries all over the world have sought to impose travel bans, quarantine citizens and isolate the infected in an attempt to stop the spread of the new virus. Considering the rapid escalation of COVID-19 outside China, on March 22, 2020 World Health Organization announced the outbreak a pandemic, which together with measures taken by the authorities has devastated all kinds of businesses worldwide: workers are laid off, contracts are being suspended or cancelled, and almost everyone is in a panic mode. This is a perfect storm. What are the legal ramifications arising from the pandemic? Could the force majeure be a way for people to get out of legal troubles? How to handle the force majeure appeals in different jurisdictions, especially considering the main differences between civil law countries and common laws countries? In the context of COVID-19, this paper will explore the very concept of force majeure or similar concept(s), the conditions, and ramifications, and attitudes of courts and certain caveats as below.

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Contract Energy July 2020 Vol.13, No. 52, Summer 2020

Haitao Zhang

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Haitao Zhang, Esq., In-house counsel and director legal for CNPC America Ltd., licensed in NY, USA and Alberta, Canada, and has been working in international petroleum industry for almost 20 years and has rich experiences in new venture business and project legal management in petroleum sector.

CNPC America Ltd

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CNPC America Ltd, which is a South American branch of CNPC, a global integrate petroleum company based in China, has petroleum business in several jurisdictions in South America, including numbers of mega projects under operation and/or construction.

Contract Energy July 2020 Vol.13, No. 52, Summer 2020
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