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(irresistible force), in civil law, a circumstance that discharges a person from responsibility. The term ”force majeure” refers to an extraordinary event whose harmful consequences could not be averted by the person responsible for averting them. Among such events are natural disasters (earthquakes, floods) and social phenomena, for example, war. Although it can not be averted, force majeure is relative: an event that is irresistible under some conditions may not be irresistible under others.
As a rule, force majeure discharges a person from property responsibility if it was the cause of a violation of the law and the obligated person is not at fault. In some cases, the offender bears property responsibility even in the presence of force majeure (for example, under art. 101 of the Air Code of the USSR). Force majeure is also grounds for suspending the running of a period of limitation of actions.