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Volcano - Act of God

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The disruption that has been caused to so many by the recent volcano in Iceland has reminded people of the importance of contractual clauses that deal with what are known as “Acts of God”.

Many of those stranded abroad are happily enjoyed an extended holiday, however for some who are unable to get back to the UK there is a worry that they are not able to comply with various contractual obligations they have.  In the last few days I have heard of one family who are unable to complete the purchase of a house as they are stuck in America and another family who are concerned their employers will sack them for missing work as they are stuck in Italy!

In many contracts you sign you may find somewhere amongst the small print that there is a clause saying that performance of the contract is excused if it is not possible as a result of an Act of God.  No doubt some travel insurers will be pointing to the volcano as an Act of God when refusing to pay for cancelled holidays.

Legally, an Act of God is defined as an extraordinary event or occurrence which could not have been foreseen or guarded against.  When explaining this, lawyers tend to use the example of a volcano or an earthquake however even extraordinarily high tides have been found to be Acts of God by the Courts!

The volcano has certainly reminded people that the clauses lawyers insist on putting at the bottom of contracts do have some purpose.  If you have any contractual queries, or if there are any other matters we can be of assistance with, then do feel free to call Veitch Penny Solicitors on 01292 278381 and we are happy to offer you a free half hour consultation.
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