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Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
18-year olds as infants? Why do they use so much Latin when so few of their
clients are Ancient Romans? Is it a conspiracy?

Party of the First Part has the answers! Check out the Website for the
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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Word of the Week

Force Majeure

It basically means an "act of God" but with a dollop of Grey Poupon mustard. The literal translation of the French words is "superiour force."

There are many French terms in Anglo-American law that date from the Medieval conquest of Britain by the Normans. But force majeure ain't one of them. Rather, the term was introduced into the Code Napoleon in the early 19th Century and didn't invade English law for another 100 years.

English legal dictionaries from the late 19th and early 20th centuries don't list force majeure. But the phrase started appearing in English contracts in the early 1900's with the first case discussing it in 1904. Common law courts have stated that force majeure encompasses more things than the phrase "act of God," but frankly, I don't see how that's possible.