Force Majeure

Force Majeure (French for “superior force”), is a common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, or an event described by the legal term “act of God” (e.g., flooding, earthquake, volcano), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

While working with offshore teams, in particular in countries that are subject to severer environmental conditions such as Bangladesh or Philippines you should never forget about how real Force Majeure is. For my pet project I use support of freelancers from Philippines in SEO and data entry tasks via oDesk service. Here is an email I just received from one of my providers –

Dear Nick,

We had experienced a typhoon Ketsana that hits our area tremendously last Saturday morning since then our power was cut due to heavy rains and floods. Floods were everywhere including in our home. Power was restored last night. In this regard, the two accounts were not able to finish the working hours load for the week.

Rest assured this week, we will continue to post quality deals and able to finish work load. I apologize for this unavoidable circumstances.

Kind regards,


If you have ever experienced or seen what “Act of God” can do to lives of regular people you probably will never forget. I had and it pains me to think about what some of my team members are going through. There is also a pragmatic message here – be prepared for loss of service and take steps not too lose important artifacts that are produced offshore. That topic deserves a longer discussion and I will cover it in dedicated post shortly.

One more minor note – I think oDesk did a decent job letting me know what is going on – here is an email I received from them before I heard back from any of my providers:

Hi Nick,

We are reaching out to you because you have been working with one or more providers from the Philippines.

In the last few days the Philippines capital, Metro Manila, and other nearby areas have been hit by severe storms and floods (see coverage on Google News). Many Filipino oDesk users have been affected by this disaster and some have even lost their homes and the means to do their oDesk work.

We wanted to make you aware of this situation. If your providers have been affected by this severe weather they may not be able to do their assigned work or get in touch to advise you of their situation. We are sending all of them our support and would like to ask for your patience during this difficult time.

You may even want to send them a note of encouragement. They will appreciate it!

Additionally, if you would like to contribute to The Philippine National Red Cross that is providing local aid to those in need, you may do so at their website here.

Should you have any further concerns, please contact Customer Support.

oDesk – Changing How the World Works

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