The doctrine of frustration should not be lightly invoked... DIscuss

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The doctrine of frustration should not be lightly invoked, extended and should be kept within narrow limits because it would compromise the sanctity, freedom and purpose of the contract and lead to exploitation of the doctrine. Although this restrictive narrow usage undermines and contradicts the element of common and statute law, it is essential to restrict it to avoid a further disintegration of the law.

As Lord Wright expressed, the doctrine of frustration “is modern and flexible and is not subject to being constricted by an arbitrary formula”.Its application is fairly ambiguous and the courts have had difficulty in distinguishing parallels between the theoretical and practical implementation.

The doctrine of frustration was formally recognised in the case of Taylor v Caldwell.It was found that the contract was frustrated on the basis of the implied term theory which stated courts could impose terms which were not expressed in the contract and justify them as being in the true nature of the contract. Not only did this obscure what the courts were doing, this theory was controversial as it was fairly fictitious and unrealistic and the courts could actually read into a contract and assume that a term existed when it did not as stated by Patrick Atiyah. Despite of this, the doctrine was extended further in the case of Krell v Henry where the nonoccurrence of the event; King Edward VII’s coronation was found to have frustrated the contract as it was regarded as the principal foundation of the contract.

However, the doctrine was furthered through the introduction of the construction theory focused on “the true construction of the terms which are in the contract read in the light of the nature of the contract and of the relevant surrounding circumstances when the contract was made”.  The courts recognised the dangers posed by frustration from the implied term theory and tended to restrict it to prevent its exploitation.

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  The doctrine should be kept within narrow limits as if the courts are to invoke this doctrine on a wider basis, this will lead to needless terminations of several contracts which will not only taint the sanctity of a contract but will also contradict the purpose of the contract.  Despite of its supposed expansion and progression, the courts have always been apprehensive of its consequences on the law of contract and the pacta sunt servanda which should be guarded from any interference or exploitation.

The doctrine of frustration has its limitations which contribute to its narrow ...

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