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Frustration and Force Majeure

Frustration and Force Majeure
3rd Edition
Series:  Contract Law Library
Practice Area:  Contract Law
ISBN:  9780414028531
Published by:  Sweet & Maxwell
Publication Date:  24 Jan 2014
Subscription Information:  Non-Subscribable Product
Format:  Hardback
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The third edition of Frustration and Force Majeure provides a thorough examination of the principles governing the conflict between the sanctity of contract and the discharge of contractual obligations in response to supervening events. The author guides the reader through a list of supervening events which may be encountered in any commercial transaction, setting out the statutory principles involved, together with judicial interpretations from a number of common law jurisdictions.

The new 3rd edition:

  • Discusses some 70 new cases decided in England and in other common law jurisdictions in four continents
  • Examines the impact on the law relating to frustration of recent cases arising out of the seizure of ships by Somali pirates demanding ransom
  • Discusses the relation, in cases of an employee’s supervening disability, between common law frustration and the employer’s duty (under Equality Act 2010) to make reasonable adjustments
  • Contrasts the judicial trend to restrict the scope of frustration of contracts with the effect of supervening events on non-contractual promises which have some legal force by virtue of estoppel or analogous doctrines
  • Examines cases (such as the Classic Maritime case (2010). the Tandrin Aviation case (2010) and the Gold Group case (2010) which consider whether the financial crisis of 2008 and after could be a ground of frustration or be covered by a force majeure clause
  • Discusses some of the provisions Draft Common European Sales Law, in particular Articles 88 and 89
  • Makes many references to The Sea Angel (2007)’ a case on temporary impossibility but also a source of many new ideas on the doctrine of frustration: e.g., that a “reality check” should be applied in deciding whether supervening events should lead to discharge
  • Discusses the re-examination in the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (2010) of the principles governing alleged frustration by partial illegality
  • Re-examines “theories” of frustration in the light of recent judicial opinions

Frustration and Force Majeure:

  • Provides a thorough examination of the principles governing the sanctity of a contract
  • Examines the conflict between contractual obligations and the ability to discharge said obligations in response to supervening events
  • Discusses in detail the development of the doctrine of Frustration within the law of contract
  • Contains a comparative element to the narrative which looks at the various foreign systems for rules, concepts and examples with which an evaluation of the English rules can be made
  • Contains an examination of the concept of impossibility distinguishing between various types of impossibility and between impossibility and impracticability
  • Covers illegality including supervening prohibitions, interference with performance and qualified prohibition, all of which are discussed in detail
  • Deals clearly with the purpose, nature and construction of Force Majeure clauses
  • Discusses legal consequences of frustration at common law, as modified by legislation


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Development
Chapter 3: Impossibility in General: Destruction of Subject Matter
Chapter 4: Other Types of Impossibility
Chapter 5: Partial and Temporary Impossibility
Chapter 6: Impractability
Chapter 7: Frustration of Purpose
Chapter 8: Illegality
Chapter 9: Prospective Frustration
Chapter 10: Alternatives
Chapter 11: Leases of Land
Chapter 12: Contractual Provisions for Supervening Events
Chapter 13: Foreseen and Foreseeable Events
Chapter 14: Self Induced Frustration
Chapter 15: Effects of Frustration
Chapter 16: Nature of the Doctrine


Sir Guenter Treitel QC, DCL, FBA is a leading authority on English contract law. He is the author of The Law of Contract and a contributing author to many prestigious titles including Benjamin's Sale of Goods, Chitty on Contracts, and Carver on Bills of Lading.

Sir Guenter retired as Vinerian Professor of English Law at Oxford University in 1996 and in the following year was knighted for services to law. He was a Fellow of All Souls College from 1979 to 1996; he was previously a Fellow of Magdalen College from 1954 to 1979.

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