Can you be sued for a delay in delivering a package?

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Can you be sued for a delay in delivering a package?

I have a courier company that ships to only Guatemala. Right now there are a lot of problems in US customs and border protection because of finding other container with illegal firearms here and in the port in Guatemala. Clients are angry that their merchandise have not been delivered but with these delays it’s out of our handsl you can’t fight US customs. Can we be sued for delays in delivering the merchandise? Even with what’s going on.

Asked on August 2, 2012 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, one party to a contract is not responsible for performance issues which are completely beyond its control, like weather, natural disasters, or acts of the government. Assuming that you did everything you should have (e.g the delay is  not because you did not fill out the customs paperwork correctly), then your customers should not have grounds to sue you and win unless you happened to have provided some firm delivery guaranty. If you did, it may be enforced by them as per its plain terms.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, one party to a contract is not responsible for performance issues which are completely beyond its control, like weather, natural disasters, or acts of the government. Assuming that you did everything you should have (e.g the delay is  not because you did not fill out the customs paperwork correctly), then your customers should not have grounds to sue you and win unless you happened to have provided some firm delivery guaranty. If you did, it may be enforced by them as per its plain terms.


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