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Force Majeure and Impossibility: An Entertainment Lawyer’s Mid-Pandemic Review

In 2020, stay-at-home orders and quarantine requirements implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the entertainment industry. Production schedules were scrapped, travel restrictions impacted distribution channels and performances that relied on live audiences became all but extinct.

As a result, force majeure clauses and the common-law doctrines of impossibility of performance and frustration of purpose gained heightened attention as potential means of excusing non-performance in light of the global health crisis.

Guidance on the availability of these principles was initially sparse and outdated. Over a year later, we have a somewhat clearer picture of whether they can legitimately be invoked and in what contexts — although many questions remain. In this Westlaw Today article written by Loeb Litigation partner Frank D'Angelo, the author outlines key considerations from recent court decisions regarding force majeure clauses that entertainment counsel should keep in mind.