Contract Frustration in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Davis Contractors Ltd v Fareham Urban District Council
    • House of Lords
    • 19 Apr 1956

    So perhaps it would be simpler to say at the outset that frustration occurs whenever the law recognises that without default of either party a contractual obligation has become incapable of being performed because the circumstances in which performance is called for would render it a thing radically different from that which was undertaken by the contract.

  • National Carriers Ltd v Panalpina (Northern) Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 11 Dec 1980

    I. Frustration of a contract takes place when there supervenes an event (without default of either party and for which the contract makes no sufficient provision) which so significantly changes the nature (not merely the expense or onerousness) of the outstanding contractual rights and /or obligations from what the parties could reasonably have contemplated at the time of its execution that it would be unjust to hold them to the literal sense of its stipulations in the new circumstances; in such case the law declares both parties to be discharged from further performance.

  • Denny, Mott & Dickson Ltd v Jas. B. Fraser & Company
    • House of Lords
    • 19 May 1944

    The data for decision are, on the one hand, the terms and construction of the contract, read in the light of the then surrounding circumstances, and on the other hand the events which have occurred. The parties did not anticipate fully and completely, if at all, or provide for what actually happened. It is not possible to my mind to say that if they had thought of it, they would have said, "Well, if that happens, all is over between us."

  • Edwinton Commercial Corporation v Tsavliriss Russ (Worldwide Salvage Towage) Ltd; The Sea Angel
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 12 Jun 2007

    Among the factors which have to be considered are the terms of the contract itself, its matrix or context, the parties' knowledge, expectations, assumptions and contemplations, in particular as to risk, as at the time of contract, at any rate so far as these can be ascribed mutually and objectively, and then the nature of the supervening event, and the parties' reasonable and objectively ascertainable calculations as to the possibilities of future performance in the new circumstances.

  • Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 18 Oct 1972

    In a proper case damages for mental distress can be recovered in contract, just as damages for shod: can be recovered in tort. One such case is a contract for a holiday, or any other contract to provide entertainment and enjoyment. If the contracting party breaks his contract, damages can be given for the disappointment, the distress, the upset and frustration caused by the breach.

  • Cheall v Association of Professional Executive Clerical and Computer Staff
    • House of Lords
    • 24 Mar 1983

    In the course of the speeches, which are not entirely consistent with one another, reference was made by all their Lordships to the well known rule of construction that, except in the unlikely case that the contract contains clear express provisions to the contrary, it is to be presumed that it was not the intention of the parties that either party should be entitled to rely upon his own breaches of his primary obligations as bringing the contract to an end, i.e. as terminating any further primary obligations on his part then remaining unperformed.

  • Joseph Constantine Steamships Line v Imperial Smelting Corporation
    • House of Lords
    • 09 May 1941

    "Self-induced" frustration, as illustrated by the two decided cases already quoted, involves deliberate choice, and those cases amount to saying that a man cannot ask to be excused by reason of frustration it he has purposely so acted as to bring it about.

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Books & Journal Articles
    • Nbr. 11-1, January 1948
    • The Modern Law Review
  • Frustrating Delay
    • Nbr. 46-6, November 1983
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... delay in performance on a party's obligations under a contract. Such a delay can have serious consequences. The performance ... this point, when we come up against the notion of frustration, that our difficullies really begin. As long ago as 1958 the ......
    • Nbr. 11-2, April 1948
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... 1'. 11. \ViNwm.n : Equity nntl Quasi-Contract, 64 L.Q.IL 461 this is u tliscusslon of Ciises or riitlirr ... 29 its series on 'The trcntrncnt of 'I frustration of contract 'I in foreign legnl systems I; A. L. CoRniN : ......
    • Nbr. 46-1, January 1983
    • The Modern Law Review
    “Someone says to me: ‘Show the children a game.’ I teach them gaming with dice, and the other says, ‘I didn't mean that sort of game.’ Must the exclusion of the game with dice have come before his ...
    ...... law courts have excused performance has grown rapidly.’ Non-performance is now permitted in See in general McNair, “ Frustration of Contracts by War ” (1940) 56 L.Q.R. 173; Wade, “The Principle of Impossibility in Contract ” (1940) 56 L.Q.R. 519; ......
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Law Firm Commentaries
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