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.
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:
- 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.
- The occurrence is unforeseeable by the party aggrieved by the incident and the one who adheres to it.
- 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.
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.
Were you told that your Samsung Galaxy was not allowed on a flight you were taking? Did you have to take time out of your workweek to visit a Samsung official agent in order to figure out if you were affected by a battery recall in your Samsung’s phone model? Recalling products has not been a common act within Egypt. Consumers are often kept in the dark, leaving them to be faced with harmful side effects – as in faulty phone batteries—or being told that re-purchasing the same or similar item is the only choice they have.
It’s safe to say that consumer’s complaints in Egypt have successfully pushed legislation in the right direction.
The Egyptian legislators have enacted a new consumer protection law number 181 of the year 2018 which will supersede over the older one (law number 67 of the year 2006).
The new law ensures the existence that a good channel of communication is established between the suppliers and consumers by providing all the necessary information related to products in Arabic and an additional two other languages. Suppliers are now obliged to include all their information such as their address, contact details and trademark credentials on the product in a way that guarantee consumer’s right to have recourse against the suppliers should the consumer seeks contribution under a valid claim.
Under the Egyptian consumer protection law, mass recall of defected products is not obligatory. However, under the same law the supplier is held under legal obligation to execute the recall based on the consumer’s demand; furthermore, he has other options to exploit if the consumer allows it which will be explained below.
The supplier is obligated to contact the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) within seven days of his discovery of any defect and report the defection that occurs in the products, and any possible damage that might result from such defection to the agency. If the defect found in the products could cause/have any negative effect on the consumer’s well-being or health, the time limit of seven days for the supplier to report to the CPA is then nullified, during which the consumer is allowed to report on the defect and its harmful/negative effect. The supplier will then have to provide a report to the agency concerning any defects as soon as he discovers them, or as soon as he gains knowledge of same.
The supplier is compelled under Article 19 of executory regulation of the Law 181/2018 to publish the defects of their products in a widely spread daily newsletter, or through direct contact with consumers in the cases where such contact is possible, with respect to the CPA’s regulation which is specified by a decree issued by the Agency. The supplier will also be obliged to warn the consumers from using the defected products and cease the manufacturing process immediately. While preserving consumers right in providing repairs of the products upon the consumer’s request, offering exchanging of the defected product for another fit and undamaged product upon the consumer’s request, recalling of the defected product upon the consumer’s request is also obligatory on the supplier.
As a general rule, under the latter law of Consumer Protection Articles 17 and 21, the consumer retains his right to exchange the product for another flawless one or request a refund, even if it is not defected during the first 14 days of the purchase or during the first 30 days of the purchase if it is defected, which is an improvement for the consumer compared to the former law, where the consumer could only return the product or exchange it for another or request a refund only if it is defected within 14 days.
The supplier will have to report the defects to the agency in order to protect himself from facing any penalties pursuant to the Law. The report must contain the following details:
- The reporter’s name, capacity, nationality, address, domicile of choice in Egypt, and if the report is provided by a delegate, then his name and address shall be attached alongside the official dedicated document.
- Clarification of the defected product(s).
- Name and address of the producer.
- If the product is imported, then the name of the importer and his address have to be stated in the report.
- The date of which the defection was discovered or known.
- Technical accurate definition of the defection present in the product.
- Possible harm that could occur as a result of the defected product, and a statement that explains the method of preventing the harm from happening or handling it, if it occurs.
- The procedures required to be executed by the consumer in order to realize exchange, recall, or repair of the defected products with no additional charges.
- Any other information the supplier deems worthy of being included in the report or considers important.
Therefore, in case of a defected product the supplier will be given the option, provided by the law, to recall the defected product and provide the affected consumer with three options free of any charges :
- Exchange for an intact similar product
Highlighting what happened with Samsung when they discovered that their new product “Samsung Note 7” has a manufacturing defect in the phones’ batteries, which caused some of them to generate excessive heat, resulting in fires; as a result, on 2 September 2016, Samsung suspended sales of the Galaxy Note 7 and announced a recall. The President of Samsung’s mobile business Koh Dong-jin said that concerning the recall “There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure it out. It will cost us so much it makes my heart ache. Nevertheless, the reason we made this decision is because what is most important is customer safety.”
“Samsung’s Note 7” is a solid example for a company recalling a defected product, the renowned company “Samsung Electronics” discovered that their flagship new mobile phone (Note 7) had a disastrous defect that causes the phones to sometimes catch on fire and maybe even explode due to a flaw in the battery manufacturing, reportedly when charging or shortly after, in which Samsung swiftly responded by announcing the flaw and accepting the responsibility for their defected product, giving out shortly after they announced a huge recall campaign in which they gave refunds for return of the product or replacement for a new flawless one with no additional charges on the consumer. According to Los Angeles Times Samsung’s recall costed them at least 5.3 billion dollars.
Fake News, Personal Data and Internet Safety: Egyptian Parliament takes measures to secure internet users and aims to curb information technology crimes by issuing new Laws
Cybercrime is a fast-growing concern around the world. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities that know no borders, either physical or virtual, causing serious harm and posing very real threats to internet users.
Several discussions have taken place in the Egyptian Parliament regarding measures to police the misuse of the internet, and from those discussions, they’ve drafted the law No. 175 which indicates the penalties imposed to each crime.
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ratified Law No. 175 of 2018 on Combating Information Technology Crimes, after being approved by the parliament.
With regard to the crimes of the misusage of telecommunications and information services and technology, the law provided the imprisonment penalty for a period of no less than 3 months and a fine of no less than EGP 10,000 and not more than EGP 50,000 or one of those two penalties in the case of unlawfully benefiting by the network of the information system or any of the means of IT or a telecommunications service or an IT means of communication service or a service of audio or video broadcasting services.
For the crime of exceeding the limits of the right of entry, the law provided the imprisonment penalty for a period of no less than 6 months and a fine of not less than EGP 30,000 and does not exceeding EGP 50,000 or one of those two penalties for any person who enters on a website or a private account or information system through exceeding his authorized right to do so.
The law provided the imprisonment penalty for a period of no less than one year and a fine of no less than EGP 50,000 and no more than EGP 100,000 or one of those two penalties towards any person who intentionally entered or entered by mistake and remained unlawfully on a site or on a private account which resulted in damage, erasure, alteration, copying or reprinting of data or information on that site, private account or information system. The penalty for such a crime shall be imprisonment for a period no less than two years and a fine no less than EGP 100,000 and not exceeding EGP 200,000 or one of these penalties.
The penalties include unlawful possession to any information or data, attacks on the integrity of data, information and information systems, hacking e-mail, websites or private accounts, hacking the design of a website, hacking on the integrity of the information network and hacking on the nation’s information systems, or circulation of any designed, developed or modified, as well as hardware, software, code or other similar data without the authorization of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. As a new law, it has yet to be in practice, and our firm aims to keep a close eye on its development and manners in which the Law will be enforced.
Regarding the crimes of fraud and assault on bank cards, services and electronic payment tools, the law provided the imprisonment penalty for a period of no less than 3 months and a fine of no less than EGP 30,000 and not exceeding EGP 50,000 or one of those penalties for anyone who used the information network or any of the means of information technology to improperly access numbers or data bank cards and services or other electronic payment tools, for the purpose of stealing the funds of others or the services it provides. Such an act shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of no less than 6 months and a fine of noless than EGP50,000 and not exceeding EGP 100,000or one of these two penalties. The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period no less than one year and a fine which is no less than EGP 100,000 and does not exceed EGP 200,000or one of these two penalties if he concludes that the seizure of himself or others to those services or the money of others.
The penalties also included crimes related to the creation of websites, special accounts and e-mail, falsification of a natural or legal person, infringement of private privacy and illegal information content, whether by sending many e-mails to a specific person without his consent (spamming) or giving personal data to a system or website promoting goods or services without the persons’ consent or by publishing on the Internet or by any means of information technology, news, pictures of a person without their consent; or the violation of the privacy of any person without their consent, whether the published information is truthful or incorrect.
Anyone who intentionally uses an information or information technology program to process personal data for others to associate it with content that is contrary to public morality or improperly displays it in a way that would prejudice him or his honor will be found as violating other users rights and shall be incriminated under the Law No. 175 of 2018 on Combating Information Technology Crimes.
By Ahmed Sharabash
for Eldib Advocates