Common Mistake and Frustration
Parties occasionally enter into a contract on the basis of a common assumption which they later discover was false. Alternatively, events occur after the formation of the contract which were not within the contemplation of the parties when they entered into the contract. In these circumstances, are the parties bound to carry out their contract according to its terms, even though the events which have occurred were not within their contemplation when they entered into the contract? The answer to this question is that the courts may, in certain circumstances, release the parties from their obligations to perform. But it is very important to understand the basis of the intervention of the courts in these cases. The basis is not that the parties failed to reach agreement. These cases are not like the mistake cases which we discussed at 4.6, where one party is claiming relief on the basis that he was mistaken and that mistake negatived his consent and so prevented a contract coming into existence.
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