France: "force majeure" can be declared over coronavirus in contracts with smaller firms

FILE PHOTO: A tourist wears a protective mask as she leaves the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris as the country is hit by the new coronavirus, France, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - Companies can declare a “force majeure” over the coronavirus outbreak when dealing with contracts involving the country’s small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday.

“We are going to consider the coronavirus as a case of force majeure,” Le Maire told reporters, adding that he was currently sticking to his earlier forecast of a negative hit of 0.1 points to the French economy from the coronavirus outbreak.

The term “force majeure” refers to unexpected external circumstances that prevent a party to a contract from meeting their obligations.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alison Williams