Germany - First court decision to rule that Covid-19 Pandemic is a case of Force Majeure

The Covid-19 Pandemic has a severe impact on economic life. Trade relations, where quick handling is customary, have been severely disrupted by plant closures or supply restrictions. 

The question is whether affected contracting parties can invoke a force majeure event if they were prevented from fulfilling the contract in a timely manner due to the Corona pandemic. This would exempt them under German law - unless they have given a delivery guarantee - from any obligation to pay damages. 

There have only been very few court decisions so far on similar events (SARS epidemic, Swine Flu) which are comparable only to a limited extent. 

Now, the Regional Court of Paderborn (Landgericht Paderborn, 3 O 261/20) has issued a judgment on that question: according to this ruling, the Covid-19 Pandemic is an event of “Force Majeure”. Although the judgment is from a lower court, it marks the first court decision on the topic in Germany and it is in accordance with the prevailing legal opinion. 

HEUSSEN Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
Sven Hoffmann/Partner


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