Discharge of Contract Case Law

Discharge of Contract Case Law: Understanding the Legal Concept

Contracts are an integral part of business and personal transactions. They provide a legal framework for parties to agree on terms and conditions of their agreement. But there are times when a contract cannot be fulfilled due to unforeseeable circumstances or changing circumstances. In such cases, the contract may be discharged. Discharge of a contract refers to the termination of contractual obligations by either party. In this article, we’ll explore discharge of contract case law and the different ways in which a contract can be discharged.

Discharge by Performance

The most common way a contract is discharged is by performance. That is, when both parties fulfill their obligations under the contract, the contract is considered discharged. In such cases, the parties are said to have performed their duties under the contract. This is the ideal scenario as it leaves no room for litigation. However, there are instances where one party does not perform their contractual obligations, leading to disputes and potential legal action.

Discharge by Breach

A contract can also be discharged by a breach, which occurs when one party fails to perform their obligations under the contract. In such cases, the non-breaching party may seek legal remedies against the breaching party, such as damages or specific performance. The severity of the breach will determine the remedies available to the non-breaching party.

Discharge by Agreement

Another way a contract can be discharged is through mutual agreement. When both parties agree to mutually cancel the contract, it is considered discharged. It’s important to note that the cancellation must be voluntary and agreed upon by both parties. If one party is coerced into canceling the contract, it could be deemed invalid.

Discharge by Frustration

A contract may also be discharged due to frustration. Frustration occurs when an unforeseeable event outside the control of the parties makes the performance of the contract impossible or fundamentally different from what was originally agreed. In such cases, the parties may be excused from their contractual obligations and the contract is considered discharged. An example would be if a contract was made to rent a car for a specific date and time, but due to a natural disaster, the car rental company is unable to provide the car.

Discharge by Operation of Law

A contract can also be discharged by operation of law. This occurs when a law or regulation makes the performance of the contract illegal or impossible. For instance, if a law is passed that makes it illegal to sell a particular product, any contracts relating to the product become void.


Discharge of a contract is a legal concept that can be complex and subject to interpretation. Understanding the different ways in which a contract can be discharged can help parties avoid disputes and potential litigation. A contract that is properly discharged is one that ends smoothly, without any lingering legal issues. As always, it’s advisable to seek legal advice if you are unsure about how to discharge a contract or if you are involved in a dispute over contract discharge.