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HMRC internal manual

Customs Special Procedures Manual

Losses in warehouse: force majeure

Force majeure has been defined by the European Court of Justice as meaning: abnormal and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the trader concerned, whose consequences could not have been avoided despite the exercise of all due care, this could include for example accidental fire or flood or failure of temperature controls in a cold store.

It should be noted that this does not cover circumstances where the fault has been on the part of the trader, their supplier or another third party, on the basis that such circumstances are a foreseeable commercial risk which can be provided for by a contract term or insurance. As it is extremely difficult to establish force majeure we would not expect this to be applicable to many situations.