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هل ما يحدث في العالم الآن يعد من قبيل القوة القاهرة أم هو ظرف طارئ استثنائي ؟

Posted on: April 26th, 2020

هل ما يحدث في العالم الآن يعد من قبيل القوة القاهرة أم هو ظرف طارئ استثنائي ؟

   يشهد العالم الآن إحدى الوقائع الغير مسبوقه فى العالم مع تعطل شبه كامل في جميع المجالات اليومية و قد أثر هذا التعطل بلا أدنى شك على حياتنا العملية و الشخصية ، فبينما تتخد جميع دول العالم إجراءات احترازية للحد من تفشي الوباء المستجد (الكورونا) او كما يطلق عليه البعض الأخر (كوفيد-19)، تطرأ  ثغرة قانونيه تتعلق بكيفية التعامل مع الوضع الراهن، فهل يعد من قبيل القوة القاهرة و ما يستتبعها من رفع جميع الأعباء و الالتزامات التعاقدية على المتعاقدين، ام ان هذا الوضع يعد ظرفاً استثنائياً مؤقتاً يترتب عليه تعديل الالتزامات التعاقديه وفقاً لنظرية الظروف الطارئة [Theorie de l’imprevision]، و ما هو حكم القانون المصري حيال ذلك؟

و يمكن تعريف القوة القاهرة بأنها الحادث المفاجئ الذي لا يمكن توقعه او الإستحالة المطلقة في دفعه، لذلك يشترط  ما يلى لإعتبار الظرف من قبيل القوة القاهرة:

1- استحالة التوقع: و يشترط في عدم التوقع ان يكون هذا الحادث غير متوقع حدوثه مطلقاً اى نادر الوقوع او غير مألوف.

2- استحالة الدفع، أو بمعنى آخر ينبغي ان تكون إستحالة تلافى الحادث أو تنفيذ الالتزام استحالة مطلقة، فلا تكون استحالة بالنسبة للمدين وحده بل استحالة بالنسبة لأي شخص يكون في موقف المدين، و هذا هو وجه التمييز بين القوة القاهرة و نظرية الظروف الطارئة.

ويؤدي توافر الشروط السابقة إلي اعفاء افراد التعاقد من اية مسئولية تترتب علي عدم تنفيذ البنود المتفق عليها بالعقد وينفسخ العقد دون تحميل المدين بأي مسئولية.

ولكن يظل الأمر معلقاً فيما يخص الظروف الحالية و التكييف السليم لها حسب القانون المصرى: هل توافرت شروط إعتبارها من قبيل القوة القاهرة أم يجب عتبار هذه اظروف من قبيل الظروف الاستثنائية العابرة ؟ و هل يستحيل تنفيذ الالتزام التعاقدي بشكل كلي؟ أم يتم التنفيذ العقد ولكن بشكل جزئي فقط نظراً للقرارات التي أصدرتها وزارة القوي العاملة و رئاسة مجلس الوزراء؟

فوفقا للقانون المدنى المصرى يجب توافر الشروط الثلاثة التاليه يشترط لاعتبار واقعه الوباء المنوه عنها و التدابير الاحترازيه التى اتخذتها الدوله المصريه كقوة قاهرة يترتب عليها فسخ العقد:

1- أن تكون الواقعة المشكلة للقوة القاهرة أجنبية اى خارجة عن ارادة الطرف المتضرر من الواقعه و المتمسك بها

2- أن تكون الواقعة غير متوقعة الحدوث من قبل الطرف المتضرر من الواقعه و المتمسك بها.

3- استحالة دفع الواقعه التى تشكل القوة القاهرة و يقصد بالاستحاله هنا الاستحاله الكليه و ليس الاستحاله الجزئيه.

لذلك فاذا رغب الطرف المتضرر من واقعه الوباء و التدابير الاحترازيه التى اتخذتها الدوله اعتبارها كقوه قاهره يترتب عليها فسخ العقد، فعليه اللجوء الى القضاء يطلب بفسخ العقد تاسيسا على ان تنفيذ الالتزاماته التعاقديه اصبحت مستحيله استحاله كليه بسبب عام و خارج عن اراده اطراف التعاقد.

اما اذا رغب الطرف المتضرر من واقعه الوباء و التدابير الاحترازيه التى اتخذتها الدوله اعتبارها كظرف استثنائى يحق له معه طلب تعديل التزاماته التعاقديه ، فعليه اللجوء ابضا الى القضاء يطلب تعديل التزاماته التعاقديه، تاسيسا على ان تنفيذ التزاماته التعاقديه اصبح مرهقا او مستحيلا استحاله نسبيه بسبب عام و خارج عن اراده اطراف التعاقد.

وهنا يكون للقاضى مطلق الحرية في اعتبار هذه الظروف من قبيل الظروف الطارئه او ظرف استثنائى.

في ضوء ما سبق فاننا نرى ان انتشار وباء فيروس كورونا المستجد (كوفيد-١٩) فى جمهوريه مصر العربيه و التدابير الاحترازيه التى اتخذتها الدوله حيال ذلك الوباء و آثار التعطل فى الدولة بسبب الفيروس يعد من قبيل الحدث الطارىء مما ترتب عليه تعليق العمل فى بعض الصناعات بشكل مؤقت

وعليه فمن غير المحتمل على ضوء الظروف الحاليه (و التى يمكن أن تتغير خلال الأسابيع القليله القادمة) أنه مع تطبيق القرارات الوزاريه الحالية أن يقوم  النظام القضائى المصرى بتكييف آثار فيروس كورونا المستجد (كوفيد-١٩) كقوة قاهرة بل سينظر الليها بإعتبارها حادث طارئ يترتب عليه إمكانية تعديل الالتزامات التعاقديه.

وعلى ضوء ما سبق ، ستعتمد هذه الاعتبارات على طبيعة العقد ، بالإضافة إلى تقدير المحكمة للتفسير والتطبيقات الواقعية.

فريقنا جاهز للمساعدة في جميع الاستفسارات المتعلقة بالعقود. يرجى إخبارنا كيف يمكننا المساعدة ، ونحن نتفهم أننا نمر بأوقات عصيبة  ونأمل أن تتمكن خدماتنا من معاونتكم.

 

Are COVID-19 Consequences Considered Force Majeure Under Egyptian Law?

Posted on: April 26th, 2020

Is What’s Happening With COVID-19 Now Considered to be Force Majeure or is it Hardship?

The world is currently witnessing one of the most unprecedented events of modern times, given the almost complete disruption of our day to day lives. This disruption has undoubtedly effected everyone’s professional and private life, and while countries all over the world are taking the necessary precautionary measures to limit the outbreak of the newly emerging coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), a legal point of contention arises with regards to how the current situation should be interpreted: should it be considered as force majeure, resulting in the parties being released of all contractual obligations? Or, should it be considered as only temporary hardship, necessitating contract amendments that would adjust the contractual obligations pursuant to the “Theory of the Unforeseen” or “Theorie de l’imprevision?” Furthermore, what is the proper interpretation of the aforementioned under Egyptian Law?

Force majeure can be defined as a sudden accident that is unforeseeable and absolutely unavoidable. As such, in order for the criteria of force majeure to be met, the following conditions should exist:

1 – Impossible foreseeability of the event: it is impossible to foresee such an event due to its rarity or unusualness.

2- It is an unavoidable event: in other words, it would have been impossible to avoid the event or carryout contractual obligations; such impossibility exists not only for the debtor, but also, for any person in his/her position, and this is the main distinction between Force majeure and the “Theory of the Unforeseen” or “Theorie de l’imprevision.”

The presence of the above conditions would relieve the contractual parties of any liability arising from failure to implement the terms agreed upon in the contract, and as such, the contract would be rescinded without the debtor having to bear any responsibility thereof.

Yet the question remains, given the current circumstances, what is the appropriate interpretation under Egyptian Law? Have the conditions of force majeure been met or should the situation be considered one of exceptional hardship? Is it impossible to implement contractual obligations entirely? Or, is execution of the contract be feasible, but only partially, in light of the decisions issued by the Ministry of Manpower and the Prime Minister’s office?

According to the Egyptian Civil Code, for a pandemic to be considered an event of force majeure, precautionary measures had have been taken by the country that would make fulfilment of contractual obligations impossible, which would result in the rescission of the contract. As such, for the latter to occur, the following three conditions must be met:

  1. The event resulting in a force majeure is foreign in nature; that is, it is beyond the control of the party aggrieved by the situation and the one who insists on it.
  2. The occurrence is unforeseeable by the party aggrieved by the incident and the one who adheres to it.
  3. It is impossible to avoid the event that constitutes the force majeure and by impossible, we mean entirely impossible, and not partially impossible.

Therefore, in the event that the party aggrieved by both the pandemic and the precautionary measures taken by the Egyptian State wishes to consider these events as an event of force majeure, and in turn wishes to rescind the contract, he/she must resort to the judiciary, and request such rescission of the contract based on the fact that the execution of contractual obligations has become totally impossible due to a reason that is beyond the contractual parties wills.

However, in the event that the party aggrieved by both the pandemic and the precautionary measures taken by the Egyptian State  wishes  to consider these as exceptional circumstances and consequently, he/she would be entitled to seek amendments his/her contractual obligations, he/she must also apply  before the court seeking such amendments, based on the fact that the execution of such obligations has become burdensome or relatively  impossible  due to a general reason that is beyond the contractual parties wills.

Under such circumstances, the judge shall have the sole discretion to consider these circumstances as emergency circumstances or exceptional circumstances.

In light of the foregoing, we are of the opinion that the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Egypt, bearing in mind the precautionary measures put in place by the Egyptian State  regarding this pandemic, the effects and current state of disruption due to  COVID-19  would be  categorized as that of exceptional hardship, resulting in the temporary suspension of  certain industries.

Hence, it is unlikely, given the current state of events (which may change over the course of the next few weeks) and the current ministerial decrees in place, that Egyptian Judiciary find the effects of COVID-19 to be those of force majeure but rather that of exceptional hardship against which, the contractual obligations may be amended.

That being said, such considerations would depend on the nature of the contract, as well as the court’s discretion for interpretation and factual applications.

Our team is equipped to assist with all contract related queries. Please let us know how we could be of assistance; we appreciate that these are difficult times we are going through and we hope that our services can provide you with some semblance of relief that you may require.

Stay safe, and in good spirits.

UPDATE: COVID-19 & The Shipping Industry in Egypt

Posted on: April 6th, 2020

The shipping industry has seen its fair share of market disturbances over time, from bunker setbacks and trade wars to financial crises and actual war. Yet in the words of Rose George’s book “Ninety Percent of Everything” which highlights how Shipping is “the Invisible Industry That Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, And Food on Your Plate,” one cannot deny the importance of this industry and its resilience to global shifts.

The current disturbance is one that hits closer to many, affecting countless lives and changing the perspective on the impacts of our “global village.” With that being said, those in charge worldwide have taken measures to secure the health and safety of all who are in touch with the shipping world in the light of the global implications as a result of virus COVID-19 pandemic.

In view to the preventive and precautionary measures that all governments in various countries are taking to prevent the spread of any pandemic and to limit the chances of contaminations, we would like to shed some light on the regularity of the maritime workflow in the Arab Republic of Egypt and the measures taken to combat the virus through the coordination between both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Transport by activating these measures from the executive authorities in the ports and we will further provide you with a summary of the information that we have gathered from our colleagues in various authorities and the branches of our multiple offices throughout the Republic.

With that being said, we would like to outline the following:

-The Continuity and regularity of work in all Egyptian seaports, 24 hours a day, is done under close supervision and follow-up by the Egyptian Ministry of Transport.

-The Egyptian Ministry of Transport issued a number of instructions and recommendations to ensure the regularity of Egyptian Ports operating movements and the carrying out of cargo loading and unloading operations as well as activities pertaining to exports & imports with a bloodline.

All such preventive measures are in accordance and adhere to the Health and Safety regulations and preventive measures and such regulations and procedures have been circulated to all Egyptian ports:

-All port employees whether dealing with the public, in administrative buildings or at port yards or truck drivers, are committed to wearing masks, protective gloves, and to use medical disinfectants.

– The competent authorities are carrying out the disinfection (sanitization) of marine units; whether tugs or lunches as well as all ports buildings and passengers’ arrival and departures halls.

-The competent authorities are also carrying out the disinfection (sanitization) of all outgoing and incoming shipments.

-Under the supervision of a delegate from the Egyptian Quarantine, vessels are prevented from entering and berthing alongside ports berths until the completion of the necessary checks and medical examinations to vessels’ crew in coordination with the doctor of each ship Department in order to ensure the absence of any contamination.

-Hanging safety instructions signs regarding Hygiene Awareness at ports’ entrance and exits portals and about the necessary precautionary measures to be taken to combat contamination. Moreover, the competent authorities are warning vessels ‘owners and vessels’ local agents to immediately report any suspected case discovered on board ships, in order to take the necessary measures.

The Egyptian government stressed the need for ports to operate regularly; as it excluding ports operating activity from the currently imposed curfew announced by the government to protect citizens from the spread of infection.

Also, for the operation of the port and the maritime administration not to affected by the aforementioned curfew, permits are issued for ports workers and representatives of agencies and shipping lines to move freely at ports.

Besides the commitment of all ports to the previous standards and controls, the administration of each port in turn, has drawn up plans to implement government instructions and work to optimize the regularity of operating traffic.

We must add that the Egyptian Maritime Transport Sector has circularized over the Suez Canal Authority and all the different Egyptian Ports the following guidelines published by the International Chamber of shipping which include the recommendations published by the WHO, IMO and ILO.

We are providing you with the link of these guidelines as published on the International Chamber of shipping website, namely:

https://www.ics-shipping.org/docs/default-source/resources/coronavirus-(covid-19)-guidance-for-ship-operators-for-the-protection-of-the-health-of-seafarers.pdf

However, with the continuously evolving facts concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly progressing measures and actions being imposed on an hourly basis, our teams will continue to monitor with our colleagues at the Suez Canal Authority and the various port authorities as well as with agents with the aim to promptly update you should the facts on the ground change.

Business as usual applies to Eldib’s offices in Egypt and our network of surveyors are also available 24/7. In case any assistance will be in need, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team and we will be very pleased to assist.

Our teams send you all our thoughts during this tough time and we know that the industry will come out of this stronger.

Egyptian Courts & COVID-19

Posted on: April 6th, 2020
Image result for covid 19 photo

Following official statements by Egypt’s various courts, most courts in Egypt will be closed to the public for two weeks with all upcoming hearings postponed to a later date, this comes as a part of the country’s effort to promote social distancing in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A number of decisions have been taken in an attempt to decrease the possibility of exposure to the virus and to promote social distancing to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. The two-week hiatus started on the 15th March 2020 when the Egyptian Courts decided to suspend all its hearings as of 16th March 2020 until 30th March 2020 in compliance with the President of the Supreme Court’s instructions. However, the instructions also provided that the courts’ administrative work shall proceed as usual including roll registration, perusals, receipt of photocopies, certificates and other administrative work; bearing in mind that all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the safety of the employees and frequent attendants.

The aforementioned decision was taken in an attempt to avoid the crowding of litigants provided that rendering judgments are not suspended and the renewal of incarceration periods are made on their scheduled dates. However, it has been decided that the attendance before the court shall only be for the accused and their lawyers. This decision shall not affect the right of litigants or their proxies to appeal any judgments nor the issuance of certificates.

The Eldib Advocates and Eldib Pandi, our commercial sister company, teams across all our offices are taking all the necessary precautions for the health and safety of our employees and clients. We are consciously keeping with the recommended social distancing proposals in order to play our role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Our teams will continue to work both from our offices and if necessary remotely to satisfy the needs of our clients.

We will continue to keep you updated on the situation on the ground.

Please stay safe.