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Understanding The Difference Between Act Of God And Force Majeure

  1. To compare and contrast an Act of God and the principle of Force Majeure.
  2. To comprehend its subjective nature and broad variety of clauses
  3. To be cleared of the charges, the contracting parties must prove that they did not fail to meet their obligations.
  4. To investigate any behaviour that is beyond human control and therefore not under the control of any person or organisation.

The word is one of the defences in the Unavoidable Accident defence. Force Majeure is the other cover available in the clause of unavoidable incidents. Both terms have the same meaning in English, but they have different legal meanings. On the one hand, the concept of act of God includes all causes of an unavoidable accident caused by elementary forces of nature not connected with any agency of man or any other cause directly or indirectly, while Force Majeure is a much broader term that includes not only natural forces but also other causes that are not linked to nature but can be connected to human ag But it is the incident over which the humanity killed in the crash have no control, or perhaps the incident whose occurrence was unavoidable and cannot be controlled.

Statement Of Problem
Accidents that could not have been predicted or avoided by the due care and diligence of any human being involved are known as inevitable accidents. In another term, inevitable accidents are those that are unavoidable and cannot be avoided by using ordinary care, caution, and ability. It does not refer to something that the accident party might have or could have prevented.

An act of God is a legal defence used in cases of wrongdoing where an event occurs over which the litigant has little control and the damage is caused by natural forces. When a respondent claims that an act of God caused the danger, he may deny that he was to blame.

An act of God is an all-encompassing defence used in cases of wrongdoing where an event occurs over which the respondent has no control and the harm is caused by natural forces. In such situations, the respondent would not be held liable for such accidental damage under the rule of misdeed. Acts of God are described as circumstances for which no human foresight can be provided, but for which human prudence will inevitably perceive the possibility, and which, when they do occur, result in catastrophes that do not involve the determination to pay for the consequences that result from them.

Act Of God Or Vis Major

The 'act of God' defence is based on the misdeed law rule that a duty should be created on a problem and that a person cannot be prosecuted if the flaw is a 'vis major' and all safety precautions were taken but a loss occurred.

A tragedy that arises rapidly from a characteristic cause without the involvement of man, nor that could not have been avoided by the action of prudence, steadiness, and care.

According to Salmond, an act of God includes those actions that a man cannot avoid by exercising reasonable caution. Such blunders are the product of special abilities and are indistinguishable from human organisation.

In this way, it is an act that occurs as a result of natural causes directly and entirely without human intervention, and that it could not have been prevented by any measure of forewarning, agony, or consideration reasonable to expect from him, for example, the respondent. According to Lord Mansfield, an act of God is distinguished by the fact that it is diametrically opposed to a human act.

Components Of Act Of God

Natural Causes

An act of God is a miraculous, unusual, and unexpected manifestation of nature's forces, or a setback or misfortune resulting from an unavoidable need. An act of God cannot be avoided by wise human foresight and caution.

The effect of customary causes can be predicted and avoided by human consideration behaviour. The idea that rain would pour through a defective roof, for example, is predictable to the average citizen. If predictable causes arise, the failure to prevent potential danger establishes carelessness, and those who are injured as a result of the mishap may be eligible for damages. An act of God in this circumstance is so rare and devoid of human authority that rational thought will be unable to protect oneself from the outcomes. As a result, the injured party has no right to harm in such situations.

An Occurrence Not Reasonably Forseeable

The instance of an unforeseeable event is the most central and primary aspect of an act of God. Whether the mischief or misfortune was caused by a predictable mishap that could have been prevented, the party that sustained the damage has the right to be paid. However, the harm caused by an unpredictable and wild daily occurrence is not compensable because it could not have been avoided or held at a strategic distance by man's foresight or reasonability.

Furthermore, courts believe that the act of God immunity applies only if the event is so unprecedented that it could not have been predicted or anticipated by the peninsula's long history of environmental variations. It is constructed solely on the basis of human memory, such as written history. The courts may ask for master declarations to show that an event was unexpected.

It is difficult to avoid the alleged harm by taking appropriate precautions, and there is no human agency involved:

It implies practically difficult via stand up to. Carelessness comprises inability to avoid potential risk. In an occurrence where a human factor was available, despite the fact that the damage couldn't be forestalled, the way that the user friendly system practiced sensible consideration or safeguards via forestall the mischief must be demonstrated if the protection of act of God needs via win. In the event that carelessness is asserted and demonstrated, the safeguard of act of God will fizzle. In the event that a Since the owner was negligent in properly maintaining a tree that fell on a bystander, he cannot be absolved of responsibility under the act of God rule.

Case Laws
  1. In the case of Nichols v. Marshland, the questioner owns several fake lakes on his property. Unusual downpours, for example, was never seen in modern times, causing the banks of the lakes to burst and four extends finding a position with the offended party to be diverted. The participant was not held accountable since the guilty party's scaffolds were cleared through an act of God.
  2. In Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works Co, the plaintiffs designed water pipes that were fairly capable of withstanding intense ice. That year, there was unusually heavy ice, which caused the lines to burst, causing severe damage to the accused party's estate. It was decided that, although ice is a natural marvel, an unanticipated severe ice occurrence may be attributed to an act of God, thereby relieving the litigants of any duty.
  3. In Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayana Reddiar, the wronged party had scheduled items for transportation with the litigant. The merchandise was plundered by a mob, which the litigant was unable to stop. It was determined that an incident triggered by the respondent's acts should not be regarded as an Act of God. It was decided that a rousing horde's dangerous actions should not be considered an Act of God.

Vis Major (Act of God)

  • Act of God refers to an occurrence that occurs independently of human intervention, such as death from natural causes, floods, seismic tremors, and so on, and something no human foresight or skill might reasonably be expected to predict.
  • Vis is a Latin word that denotes some kind of strength, viciousness, or aggravation to a person or their property.
  • The act of God is represented in a variety of ways in Vis major.

Two important essentials are needed for this defence:

  • Natural forces would have been at work;
  • The incident should be rare and not something that can be replicated.
Planned, and sensible plans were made.

Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayan Reddiar[1] A.I.R. 1971 Kerala 197:

it has been held that the crimes of the boisterous crowd, which ransacked the merchandise shipped in the litigant's lorry can't be viewed as an Act of God and the respondent is responsible for the deficiency of those products as a typical transporter.

"Mishaps may occur by reason of the play of common powers or by mediation of human organization or by both. It could be that in both of these cases, mishaps might be unavoidable. Yet, it is just those acts which can be followed to common powers and which have nothing to do with the mediation of human office that could be supposed to be Acts of God."

Nichols v. Marsland[2], [1876] Ex. D. 1. - the respondent made a few

By damming some normal streams on his property, he can create fake lakes. There was once a massive amount of precipitation, as a result of which the banks of the lakes gave way. Four extensions belonging to the offended party were swept away by the flood. It was decided that the respondents were not in danger because the misfortune was caused by an act of God. To gain from this safety net, simply combine vis significant after The carelessness of the litigant is insufficient security.

Manindra Nath Mukherjee v. Mathuradas Chaturbhuj[3] (1946):

"an activity of normal powers so surprising that no human prescience or ability could sensibly be required to expect it". Inordinate breeze caused promotion flag to fall on offended party safeguard was negatived and he was expected to take responsibility for carelessness. The breezes were not unprecendented and sudden. In this manner the def was expected to take responsibility.

Force Majeure Clauses Generally

A force majeure condition is a contractual arrangement which pardons one or the two players' presentation commitments when conditions emerge which are past the gatherings' control and make execution of the contract impractical or impossible.

Force majeure occasions commonly listed in contracts include:

  1. Acts of God, for example, extreme acts of nature or climate occasions including floods, fires, seismic tremors, typhoons, or blasts
  2. War, acts of psychological oppression, and scourges;
  3. Acts of administrative specialists like seizure, judgment, and changes parents in law and guidelines;
  4. Strikes and work debates; and
  5. Certain accidents. Economic difficulty commonly isn't sufficient to qualify as a force majeure occasion on its own.
Deciding if a force majeure provision can be conjured is a fact concentrated request, as it relies upon the particular language of a contract. By and large, force majeure provisions are deciphered narrowly. "The general words are not to be given far reaching meaning; they are restricted to things of similar kind or nature as the specific issue mentioned."

Force majeure conditions are deciphered considering their motivation, which is "to restrict harms for a situation where the sensible assumption for the gatherings and the presentation of the contract have been baffled by conditions outside the ability to control of the parties." "When the gatherings have themselves characterized the forms of force majeure in their arrangement, those shapes direct the application, impact, and extent of force majeure."

  • Amid disturbances brought about by Covid-19, the Finance Minister has alluded to an Act of God while organizations are taking a gander at a lawful arrangement, power majeure, to cut misfortunes.

Evoking "Act of God"
  • The force majeure or "Act of God" provision has its sources in the Napoleonit Code.
  • The money service had given an office reminder welcoming thoughtfulness regarding the force majeure provision (FMC) in the 2017 Manual for Procurement of Goods gave by the Department of Expenditure
  • It explained that the pandemic ought to be viewed as an instance of common cataclysm and FMC might be conjured, any place thought about fitting.

What is a force majeure provision?
  • The law of contracts is worked around a major standard that the gatherings should play out the contract
  • When a gathering neglects to play out its piece of the contract, the misfortune to the next party is made acceptable.
  • Nonetheless, the law cuts out special cases when the performance of the contract gets inconceivable for the parties.
  • A force majeure statement is one such special case that delivers the gathering of its commitments to a degree when occasions outside their ability to control happen and leave them unfit to play out their piece of the contract
  • FMC is a proviso that is available in most business contracts and is a carefuly drafted legitimate game plan in case of an emergency.
  • At the point when the provision is set off, gatherings can choose to part from their obiligations incidentally or forever without essentially breaking the contract.
  • Organizations in such circumstances utilize the provision as a protected leave course, now and then opportunisticly, without bringing about the punishment of breaking the contract.

Difference between Act of God and Force Majeure

  • Generally, an "Act of God" incorporates just characteristic happening occasions, while force majeure incorporates both normally happening occasions and occasions because of human intercession.
  • However, the two ideas have similar outcomes in law.
  • For instance, a delivery contract would have a force majeure condition that could cover catastrophic events like a tidal wave.
  • War, rlots, natural disasters or acts of God, strikes, the presentation of new government strategy forcing a ban, blacklists, flare-up of pandemics, and so forth are for the most part recorded as force majeure.
  • A force majeure condition is haggled by parties and isn't Invoked just by communicating that an unexpected occasion has happened.
Indian laws
  • In the event that a contract doesn't have a force majeure proviso, the Indian Contract Act, 1872 gives that a contract gets void in the event that it gets unthinkable because of an occasion after the contract was marked that the gathering couldn't forestall.

Legal mediations with respect to FMC
  • In the event that involved with a contract accepts that the other party has conjured the force majeure condition in a ridiculous circumstance, it can move the court looking for the exhibition of the contract.
  • In a 2017 case, the Supreme Court refered to a 1961 House of Lords choice that decided that the conclusion of the Suez Canal, albeit unanticipated, had not delivered a contract to transport products from Africa Impossible since a more drawn out course around the Cape of Good Hope existed.
  • Singapore enacted the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act in April to give alleviation to organizations that couldn't play out their contractual commitments because of the pandemic.
  • The Paris Commercial Court in July decided that the pandemic could be likened to a force majeure occasion.
  • As of late, the Bombay High Court didn't acknowledge the force majeure contention for a situation where the candidate contended that COVID-19-related lockdowns had baffled a contract for the stockpile of steel.


While the act of God protection � which protects a litigant from risk of personal injury or property damage caused by a natural cause � is rarely used, it could become more frequent and commonplace in the future if predictions of bad weather events caused by an increasingly diverse world prove accurate. One expectation associated with a global temperature rise is that catastrophic climate events such as typhoons, twisters, and heavy rains will occur more frequently. This would have the potential to cause widespread personal injury and property damage, as well as mental harm.

The Covid is destructively affecting organizations and their capacity to perform under their contracts. Nonetheless, regardless of whether a guaranteeing gathering can effectively conjure a force majeure provision, a difficulty/impracticability safeguard, or a dissatisfaction of direction protection to pardon execution because of the Covid is a fact concentrated request and should be evaluated dependent upon the situation. Contractual gatherings should look to the particular language of the contract, including the pertinent law, to decide their probability of achievement.
  • The fundamental test for some FM statements requires the gathering summoning the condition to demonstrate that - the obstruction is past the gathering's control; - the obstacle couldn't sensibly have been anticipated when the contract was closed; and - the impacts of the hindrance couldn't have been dodged or overwhelmed by the gathering.
  • If involved with a business contract effectively conjures-or 'calls'- a FM provision subsequent to giving convenient notification of the FM occasion, that gathering is commonly mitigated of - its obligation to play out its blocked contractual commitments, and - risk for harms for penetrate of contract, during the time frame that the FM occasion forestalls contractual execution. The other party to the contract may likewise be allowed to suspend contractual execution whenever it has gotten opportune notification of the FM occasion from the gathering summoning the condition.
  1. Ramalinga Nadar v. Narayan Reddiar [1971] (kerala high court).
  2. Nichols v. Marsland [1876].
  3. Manindra Nath Mukherjee v. Mathuradas Chaturbhuj [1946].
Written By: Mohit Mandloi, BA-LLB(Hons.) Semester I, NMIMS Indore

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