News23ABC In-Depth


What is a "Force Majeure" clause in a contract?

A term relating to unforeseeable circumstances
Posted: 10:08 AM, Jun 16, 2021
Updated: 2021-06-16 13:09:38-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A Washington woman was supposed to get married here in her hometown of Bakersfield. However, when she showed up at a vacant building, she realized that her big day may not happen the way she had hoped. That’s because Metro Galleries shut down due to the pandemic.

Covering Kern County

Bride's wedding venue falls through as business shuts

11:28 PM, Jun 15, 2021

Don Martin was the owner of Metro Galleries for nearly 18 years, a staple in Downtown Bakersfield. He told 23ABC that he stopped booking events last year, sending an email to his clients this past April. In the email, he says in part, “we have made the very difficult decision to close Metro. We simply see no way to continue as the business is bankrupt and Don depleted his savings by paying staff and trying to keep the doors open.”

Now even though the couple didn't have a contract with Metro we're taking an in-depth look at the legalities of contracts when you are looking for a venue.

In most cases, venues and clients sign a contract that may or may not have a "force majeure" clause written into it.

"Force Majeure" is a term relating to unforeseeable circumstances preventing someone from fulfilling a contract.

Depending on the type of contract and the exact terms either the venue or the client is protected. In some cases, the clause is used to get both parties out of the contract if something unforeseen arises like a global pandemic in this case.

However, this doesn't always guarantee people their deposits back from a venue if an event gets canceled. Depending on how much a deposit is it might not be worth pursuing a refund.

Often times legal fees are more than the value of the deposit.