Taylor v. Caldwell

3 Best & Smith 826 (1863).

One-Sentence Takeaway: Mutual obligations of a contract may be discharged by supervening impossibility of performance by virtue of an implied term.

Summary:  A landmark English case that established the doctrine of impossibility of performance in contract law.

In the case, Defendant’s music hall that was the subject of a rental contract with Plaintiff burned to the ground.  Plaintiff sued for Defendant’s failure to rent the hall as set forth in the contract.

Justice Blackburn established the doctrine of common law impossibility and referenced the civil code of France and Roman law for the proposition that if the existence of a particular item is essential to a contract and that item is destroyed by no fault of the party, the parties are freed from obligation to deliver said item.

Related entries