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Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

Poole's Casebook on Contract Law (16th edn)

Robert Merkin KC and Séverine Saintier
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date: 15 June 2024

p. 60912. Discharge by frustration: subsequent impossibilitylocked

p. 60912. Discharge by frustration: subsequent impossibilitylocked

  • Robert Merkin KC, Robert Merkin KCProfessor of Commercial Law Reading Law School, University of Reading
  • Séverine SaintierSéverine SaintierProfessor in Commercial Law Cardiff School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University
  •  and Jill PooleJill Poole50th Anniversary Professor of Commercial Law and Head of Aston Law Deputy Dean, Aston Business School, Aston University


Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. Without the fault of either party, a contract may be automatically discharged due to frustration that renders further performance of the contract impossible, illegal, or radically different from what was originally conceived. In this case, the parties will be excused further performance of their contractual obligations. However, the frustration doctrine applies only where there is no express provision in the contract (a force majeure clause) allocating the risk. This chapter, which examines the frustration doctrine and discharge for subsequent impossibility, first considers the contractual risk allocation before turning to the theoretical basis for the doctrine of frustration. It then discusses limitations on the operation of the frustration doctrine before examining the effects of frustration and the effects on the parties’ positions of the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943.

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