Force majeure clauses are typically included in commercial contracts, but their exact wording varies. We often see terms such as "war", "riot", "strike" and "other events beyond reasonable control of the Parties" included in force majeure clauses. If the contract at hand includes "war" as a relevant force majeure event, the invasion of Ukraine will constitute force majeure for direct effect of the invasion, such as deliveries from factories in Ukraine no longer able to deliver. Discontinued transport to and from areas of Ukraine directly affected by the hostilities creating high risk to personnel and goods may also be a direct effect of war. It is however uncertain exactly the extent to which transport is impossible or associated with acceptable risk, possibly in combination with alternative transport routes.
The same principle applies to trade sanctions; whether the imposed trade sanctions constitute force majeure, depends on the wording of the particular clause and the exact wording of the sanction, by whom they are passed and to whom they are addressed. The embargo on oil and gas imports are for example passed by the US and not by the EU.
If the clause itself does not define which incidents constitute force majeure, but merely refers to "force majeure", "incidents beyond reasonable control of the Parties" or similar, a more comprehensive legal assessment is required. Under Norwegian law, there is no uniform definition of force majeure. The Norwegian Supreme Court has stated that as a bare minimum, the event must be external, unexpected and extraordinary, as well as being beyond the control of the parties. However, which events that constitute force majeure, will also vary depending on the nature of the relevant contract.
If the contract does not specifically include a force majeure clause, it is still under Norwegian law assumed that the principle of force majeure applies under certain conditions. When assessing whether an incident constitutes force majeure, the Norwegian Supreme Court has stated that an interpretation of the specific force majeure clause in the contract is decisive.