29Nov 18

Hardship and Force Majeure in International Commercial Contracts

Paris, France, • English
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38th ICC Institute Annual Conference on Hardship and Force Majeure in International Commercial Contracts: Dealing with unforseen events in a changing world.


This annual conference of the ICC Institute of World Business Law will gather international business practitioners, legal experts and academics to deliberate on the topic of Hardship and Force Majeure in International Commercial Contracts. This conference will offer not only a line-up of top-class speakers, topical discussions and relevant news, but also an excellent opportunity to network.

The Institute will also publish Hardship and Force Majeure in International Commercial Contracts (Dossier XVII of the Institute series). Prepared by some of the key speakers, each participant will receive a free copy as part of their conference materials.

Who should attend? 

Practising lawyers, corporate counsel, arbitrators, mediators, business professionals and academics from around the world.


09:00 – 09:15Opening
09:15 – 09:30Introduction
09:30 – 09:50The evolution of the rules on hardship: from the first study on hardship clauses to the enactment of specific rules
The “discovery” of hardship clauses in the study group on international contracts (1975) and the academic discussion ensuing after its publication.
The inclusion of provisions on hardship in the Unidroit Principles and Lando Principles.
Legislative developments in recent years (France, Germany).
09:50 – 10:30The point of view of business regarding contract adaptation by courts/arbitrators in case of hardship
Is it acceptable to run the risk that a court or arbitral tribunal adapts the contract conditions in case of hardship? Most businessmen strongly disagree with this option, which is considered too dangerous. Others (and in particular those who may face a hardship situation), are more favourable.
The ICC hardship clause does not provide the possibility of adaptation, but only (as sole remedy) the contract termination. The task force which is revising the 2003 force majeure and hardship clause, will have to decide whether to include the adaptation by courts as an alternative solution.
10:30 – 11:00Questions and answers
11:00 – 11:20Coffee Break
11:20 – 11:40The adaptation of international contracts by arbitrators: realities and perspectives
Adaptation of contracts in the absence of an express clause providing for adaptation and/or of provisions on hardship in the applicable law?
Are domestic rules on hardship mandatory? Can adaptation by the arbitrator be excluded?
The arbitrators’ role in adapting contracts and its limits.
11:40 – 12:10Rules on force majeure as illustrated in recent case law
A short overview of the various approaches under domestic law: impossibility of performance, frustration of contract, impracticability; significance of contractual force majeure clauses.
The force majeure excuse under the CISG and the Unidroit Principles.
Illustration by recent case laws.
12:10 – 12:30Questions and answers
12:30 – 14:00Lunch
14:00 – 14:30Drafting force majeure clauses: common law and civil law approach
The way of drafting force majeure clauses tends to be different in a civil law or common law environment. In the first case more importance is given to the general definition of force majeure; in the second, to the listed events.
The trend towards compromise solutions which consider both aspects.
14:30 – 15:00The approach to force majeure and harship in Middle East and African countries
Is there a common trend in interpreting and applying force majeure clauses? Possible influence of principles and laws of Islamic, Middle Eastern and African states.
15:00 – 15:20Analysing the ICC 2003 force majeure clause
Structure of the clause: the relationship between the general definition and the listed events.
The three basic requirements: impediment beyond control; unforeseeability, unavoidability and the reference to reasonableness.
Consequences of force majeure. Temporary impediment and contract termination.
15:20 – 15:50Questions and answers
15:50 – 16:10Coffee Break
16:10 – 16:30The revision of the ICC force majeure and hardship clause
A working group of the ICC Commission on Commercial Law and Practice is revising the 2003 force majeure and hardship clauses.
A member of the working group will present the main changes discussed and the options considered in the revision.
16:30 -16:50Force majeure clauses and their relationship with the applicable law, general principles of law and trade usages
Force majeure clauses may be stricter or wider than the rules of the applicable law. Can a party invoke the stricter legal rules?
What is the relationship between the force majeure clause and general principles of law or trade usages?
16:50 – 17:10Economic sanctions and force majeure
The focus of this session will be on some substantive issues that typically arise, in arbitration and court proceedings, in the context of a contractual dispute triggered by a party’s failure to perform its obligations following the imposition of an economic sanctions programme. The characterization of economic sanctions from a private law perspective will be briefly discussed. Two main questions will then be addressed, namely whether a party prohibited by a sanction from performing its obligations may be granted exemption from liability for non-performance, and whether performance must invariably be resumed under the original contractual terms, if at all, once a sanction is lifted.
17:30-19:00Cocktail Reception



Fabio Bortolotti Founding Partner, Buffa Bortolotti & Mathis, Italy; Council Member, ICC Institute of World Business Law
Dorothy Udeme Ufot SanManaging Partner, Dorothy Ufot & Co, Nigeria; Council Member, ICC Institute of World Business Law



Pascale Accaoui LorfingResearcher, International and Investment Contracts and Arbitration, France
Mercedeh Azeredo da SilveiraAttorney-at-law, Baer & Karrer SA, Switzerland
Ramy BassilyCounsel, Kosheri, Rashed & Riad, France
Klaus Peter BergerProfessor of Law, Center for Transnational Law, University of Koln, Germany; Council Member, ICC Institute of World Business Law
David BrownPartner, Clyde & Co, France; Council Member, ICC Institute of World Business Law
Dominique Brown-BersetPartner, Brown & Page, Switzerland
Christoph BrunnerPartner, Peter & Partners International Ltd, Switzerland; Titular Professor for Commercial Law and Arbitration, University of Bern
Yves DerainsFounding Partner, Derains & Gharavi, France; Former Secretary General, ICC International Court of Arbitration; Chairman, ICC Institute of World Business Law
Ercument ErdemFounding Partner, Erdem & Erdem, Turkey; Council Member, ICC Institute of World Business Law
Marcel FontaineProfessor Emeritus, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Pietro GalizziHead of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, ENI Gas e Luce S.p.A, Italy
Delphine JacquemontProjects, Infrastructure, Energy Lawyer, France
Abhijit MukhopadhyayPresident (Legal) and General Counsel, Hinduja Group, United Kingdom
Emilia OnyemaReader in International Commercial Law, SOAS University of London, United Kingdom

Logistical notes

Dates and venueDate: 29 November 2018
Venue: Marriott Champs-Elysées
70 avenue des Champs-Elysées
75008 Paris
Registration feesEarly bird until 5 October 2018
€759 (€910.80 incl. VAT)
ICC member
€910 (€1092 incl. VAT)
€1092 (€1310.40 incl. VAT)
Special discountsGroup rates: Register 5 persons from the same company and pay for four.
In-house Counsel, full time Academics and Government representatives may benefit from a 30% discount.
Please contact events@iccwbo.org for more details.
Travel and accommodationTravel and hotel expenses are not included in the registration fees.
Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and hotel reservations.
A list of hotels in Paris , with which ICC has negotiated preferential room rates, will be sent to you upon receipt of the registration.
VisaWe are able to dispatch visa invitation letters to support your visa application only after receipt of your registration online.
Credits and hours ICC Training and Conferences is eligible for CLE credit under New York ‘s approved jurisdiction procedures, is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider and is an accredited CPD provider by the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales.
Cancellation policy50% of the registration fee will be refunded if notice of cancellation is received in writing before Friday 26 October 2018. Cancellations after this date are not refundable.Subject to agreement from ICC Training and Conferences prior to the event, the registration may be transferred to another person from the same company or organization at no extra charge. Updated registration information will be required. Please be informed that any form of cancellation will incur a cancellation fee of €5 + 2.75% of the registration fee which must be covered by the participant. Please note that ICC Services reserves the right to cancel this event or to make minor alterations to the content and timing of the programme or to the identity of the speakers. In the unlikely event of cancellation, delegates will be offered a full refund. ICC Services will not, however, be held responsible for any related expense incurred by the participant.
DisclaimerThe photos and audiovisual recordings taken at this meeting/event may be used and published by ICC, its subsidiaries or affiliates, for informational or promotional purposes in printed materials or online, including on ICC websites and in social media.
Participation in the meeting/event implies agreement to such use of photos or audiovisual recordings in which the participant may appear unless ICC Services receives written notification to the contrary.


Sponsorship Opportunities

This conference offers you an unrivalled opportunity to maximise your visibility to international business practitioners, legal experts and academics.

Visit our dedicated Sponsorship Opportunities page to access our packages.


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