School Risk and Force Majeure

Risk and the need to manage it has always been a part of school life.

No matter what type of school or organization you are a part of, if you make agreements or have contracts with anyone, you need to have a force majeure clause. When I talk to people about their contracts (such as enrollment agreements, vendor agreements, employment agreements, etc.), I often find that they do not have a force majeure clause.

From a risk management perspective, these clauses are essential and you need to have one. While I am not an attorney, I recommend one along the lines of the one below for student enrollment agreements:

Force Majeure.  I understand and agree that the duties and obligations of EXAMPLE ORGANIZATION under this Agreement may be modified or suspended immediately and without notice because of force majeure causes beyond the ORGANIZATION’S reasonable control and occurring without its fault or negligence including, but not limited to, acts of god, fire, wars, governmental action, terrorism, epidemic, pandemic, weather, other threats to the safety of people, national emergencies, or any other event beyond the ORGANIZATION’S control.

If such an event occurs, I acknowledge and agree that my obligations under this Agreement, including my obligation to be financially responsible for the Student’s tuition and other fees, shall continue and the ORGANIZATION’S duties and obligations may be modified, suspended, or postponed until such time as the ORGANIZATION, in its sole discretion, may safely resume operations. I acknowledge and agree that the sole remedy for a force majeure event is future service delivery and not a financial refund. ORGANIZATION may, at its option, and in its sole discretion, alter the academic year schedule or provide alternate means of instruction, including, but not limited to, remote learning.

Please check with your organization’s legal counsel before adding anything like this but I do suspect that they will think it is a good idea!

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