With winter storms upon many parts of the United States, we thought it would be a great time to remind planners about the importance of something we may take for granted in our hotel contracts, The Force Majeure Clause. It has been my experience that many planners quickly overlook this clause before signing a contract not really understanding the financial protections it can provide to the planner and their clients. Take the time to carefully review and understand the clause and think about all things, out of your control, that could go wrong with a particular location or venue affecting your carefully planned event.
The following force majeure clause from M&C’s legal expert, Jonathan T. Howe of Chicago’s Howe & Hutton firm, is relatively general and should be used as a guide. Before slipping it into your contract, be sure to obtain competent legal advice.
Definition of “without liability”: When stated in any provision of this Agreement, “without liability” means that there will be no liquidated damages, attrition fees, cancellation fees, rental charges, service charges, or any direct, consequential, compensatory, special incidental damages or any other damages or amounts of any nature whatsoever.
Should events beyond the reasonable control of the Hotel and GROUP, including but not limited to (1) acts of God, (2) war, including armed conflict, (3) strikes or labor disputes at the Hotel or in ____(area)_____, (4) disease at the Hotel or in ___(area)____, (examples of disease: SARS, Legionnaires), (5) government regulation or advisory (including travel advisory warnings), (6) civil disturbance at the Hotel or in ______(area)_______, (7) terrorism or threats of terrorism in the United States as substantiated by governmental warnings or advisory notices, (8) curtailment of transportation services or facilities which would materially affect attendees from attending the conference, (9) disaster, fire, earthquakes, hurricanes in________(area)_______, (10) unseasonable extreme inclement weather in ______(area)_______, (11) shortages or disruption of the electrical power supply causing blackouts or rolling blackouts or other essential utilities in _______(area)________, or (12) any other cause reasonably beyond the parties’ control (collectively referred to as “occurrences”), making the event commercially impracticable, impracticable to perform, illegal, or impossible to fully perform under this Agreement as the Parties originally contracted. In such case the affected Party may terminate this Agreement, without liability, upon written notification. Furthermore, should one of the above events occur and GROUP decides to continue with the Conference as scheduled, or if one of the events occur within six months of the conference, the Hotel will waive any applicable minimum Guestroom Night Usage requirements or attrition fees, catered function(s) cancellation fees or other damages provided for under this Agreement, and offer to Attendees the lowest guestroom rates being offered by the Hotel over the Conference Dates. In addition, should registered attendees cancel reservations or registrations because of reasons over which they have no control such as, but not limited to airline flight cancellations. HOTEL shall appropriately reduce, without liability to GROUP, any obligation by GROUP or the individual which otherwise would be required in any manner under this Agreement. Notice under this provision may be given at any time in advance of the Conference provided that the notifying party has met the requirements of this provision.