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Contract Law ConcentrateLaw Revision and Study Guide

Contract Law Concentrate: Law Revision and Study Guide (5th edn)

Jill Poole, James Devenney, and Adam Shaw-Mellors
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date: 23 September 2023

p. 1678. Contractual impossibility and risk: frustration and common mistakelocked

p. 1678. Contractual impossibility and risk: frustration and common mistakelocked

  • Jill Poole, Jill PooleFormerly Deputy Dean, Aston Business School, and Professor of Commercial Law, Aston University
  • James DevenneyJames DevenneyHead of School and Professor of Transnational Commercial Law, School of Law, Reading University, UK and Visiting Full Professor, University College Dublin, Ireland
  •  and Adam Shaw-MellorsAdam Shaw-MellorsSenior Lecturer in Commercial Law and Director of Employability, Law School, Aston University, UK


Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. Concentrates show you what to expect in a law exam, what examiners are looking for, and how to achieve extra marks. This chapter examines the law’s response to events that render performance of the contract impossible for reasons beyond the control of the contracting parties, and so provide an excuse for non-performance. The default legal doctrines—common mistake (initial impossibility) and frustration (subsequent impossibility)—may come into play in instances of impossibility of performance only where there is no express or implied allocation of the risk of the event in the contract. These default doctrines determine what is to happen to the existing and future obligations of the parties.

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