Force Majeure and COVID-19 – Porter Airlines v. Nieuport Aviation Trial Decision
Title: Force Majeure and COVID-19 – Porter Airlines v. Nieuport Aviation Trial Decision
Author: Peter Kolla
Law firm: Goodmans LLP
The COVID-19 pandemic presented businesses with unprecedented challenges. It was inevitable that litigation would follow, and that the courts would be required to interpret familiar contract terms in light of these decidedly unfamiliar circumstances. Whether parties to a contract could invoke a force majeure clause (sometimes called an “act of God” clause) in response to COVID-19 was the focus of much speculation when the pandemic first hit.
In Porter Airlines Inc. v. Nieuport Aviation Infrastructure Partners GP, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently considered whether a force majeure clause relieved Porter from certain contractual obligations. It also considered whether COVID-19 required Porter’s counterparty to act reasonably in exercising certain of its contractual rights. In the result, the Ontario trial Court held that Porter was not entitled to relief from its contractual obligations as a result of COVID-19, and ordered it to pay substantial damages.