On the face of it, it might appear the coronavirus pandemic will trigger force majeure clauses in many shipping contracts as the spread of the Covid-19 disease has led to the locking down of so many countries’ economies. It is not as simple as that.

For one thing in English law, used in many maritime cases, there is no concept of force majeure in statute or case law, and so it cannot be implied in a contract.

So, first off, it is necessary to have a force majeure clause in a charter contract to be able to cover Covid-19.