A Legal Question
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05-06-2004, 10:35 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Originally Posted by
The Yashin case can be differentiated quite easily, however, based on the fact that there was no event of force majeure in his situation. The league was operating, everyone was playing. The situation is quite different when, in this example, there is an event of force majeure that prevents either side from fulfilling its obligations under the contract. I would expect the players to be getting some form of compensation, even in the event of a force majeure termination/expiration, but we would need to see the actual contracts to know for sure. Anyway, interesting issue.
I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see how force majeure applies. That excuses a party from liability when an unforseen event beyond the control of the parties intervenes. It usually applies to things like wars and acts of God, not labour disputes.
One of the things that made the decision in the Yashin case inexplicable is that the parties did discuss the issue in the collective bargaining negotiations. The owners wanted a non-performance clause, the players balked. The reason the owners wanted the clause was not in anticipation of a Yashin (I don't think) and the reason the NHLPA balked was not to protect a player who held out while on a contract.
The issue probably came up because the owners anticipated that the collective agreement was going to expire when salaries were rising. If the players went on strike after the agreement expired, contracts would not expire and the owners would benefit significantly because generally larger contracts would replace the smaller ones.
Assuming that interpretation is correct - and I'm far from certain that it is so - the result is very ironic. The Yashin ruling gave the owners what they wanted - a non-performance clause - but the agreement is expiring as salaries are falling so the ruling benefits the players, not the owners.
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