Act Of God Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Act Of God, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Act Of God?
n. act of God is a legal term for those events which are outside of control of humans and for which no one can be held responsible and which cannot be prevented. If a duty, to be performed, is casted by law on a party and its execution is hindered by Act of God, then the party can be excused. But someone who put others in danger by his/her negligence or lack of character or unpreparedness which could have been avoided, then he is held guilty for the slip even in case of Act of God.
History and Meaning of Act Of God
The term "Act of God" first originated in the English law courts back in the 16th century. It refers to an event or occurrence that is caused by natural forces, and which humans have no control over. In legal terms, an "Act of God" is a way of explaining unexpected and uncontrollable events that lead to physical damage or injury. This could include natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, or lightning strikes.
In some countries, the term "Act of God" has been replaced by the term "force majeure," which means "superior force." This is because the phrase "Act of God" has religious connotations that are not appropriate in a secular legal system.
Examples of Act Of God
- A tornado destroys a factory, despite the fact that the owners had taken all reasonable precautions to protect their property. In this case, the owners would not be held responsible for the damage caused by the tornado, as it was an "Act of God."
- A tree falls on a car during a storm, causing injury to the driver. Again, in this situation, the owner of the tree would not be held accountable, as the falling of the tree was caused by the storm, which is an "Act of God."
- A concert is cancelled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms that make it impossible to continue the performance. In this case, the concert organizer would not be responsible as the cancellation was due to an "Act of God" and it was beyond their control.
Legal Terms Similar to Act Of God
- Force Majeure - A legal clause that frees both parties from liability or obligation in the event of unforeseeable circumstances beyond their control.
- Act of Nature - Refers to events that are beyond human control, such as natural disasters, and for which no one can be held responsible.
- Casus Fortuitus - An unexpected event or circumstance that is unforeseeable and beyond human control.