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Taylor V Caldwell [1863] 3 B&S 826

Contract Law – Frustration

Taylor V Caldwell [1863] 3 B&S 826 is a key case within the contract law degree module for university LLB degree courses. The case concerns the frustration of a contract.


In this case the claimant agreed to hire a music hall from the defendant. The claimant could not use the venue as it was destroyed by a fire. Neither party was responsible for the fire. The claimant then sued for breach of contract.


Did the fire end the liabilities of both parties obligations under the agreement, or was there a breach of contract?


The case of Paradine v Jane [1647] EWHC KB J5 details the doctrine of absolute obligation. under this doctrine the defendant would be liable as they could no longer fulfill their side of the agreement. However, in this case it was noted that the application of the doctrine would be too harsh and as such the defendant was released from their liability using the doctrine of frustration.

The frustration doctrine occurs when the subject matter of a contract, e.g goods and/or services, have been destroyed or rendered unavailable outside of control of either party.

The burning down of the hall frustrated, and thus ended the contract.

OSCOLA reference this article/case: Lawlessons, ‘Taylor V Caldwell [1863] 3 B&S 826 ‘ (LawLessons, 11th August 2021) <> accessed 8th July 2022

Published inFrustration
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