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Doctrine of Frustration Under the Indian Contract Act, 1872


Frustration in contract regulation alludes to an unexpected occasion after a contract’s rise.

The common principle of the contract states that the parties to a contract need to satisfy their commitments under the contract, and in the event of a breach, the party penetrating the contract needs to indemnify the other for the damage caused because of the action of such party. The Doctrine of Frustration is an exemption from this rule.

The doctrine of frustration, as referenced in Section 56 of the Indian Contract Act 1872, plans with those conditions where the presentation of agreement has been disappointing, and the show of it has become testing to act considering any undeniable explanation or condition.

Evolution of Doctrine Of Frustration

The English precedent-based regulation stringently complied with rules that constrained parties to respect every authoritative responsibility, even when satisfying them became unreasonable. Notable cases like Paradine v. Jane established a rigid approach, holding parties liable for their obligations regardless of uncontrollable events.

However, this approach proved too stringent and potentially unjust. The case of Taylor v. Caldwell brought about a significant shift in Indian Contract Act law by recognizing that contracts could be frustrated when performance was rendered impossible due to events beyond the parties’ control.

Doctrine of Frustration As Per The Indian Contract Act

In India, the term “frustration of contract” is not explicitly defined in the Indian Contract Act of 1872. However, Section 56 of the Act governs the Agreement to Perform Impossible Acts in India. This section allows a court of law to void a promisor’s promise to perform an impossible act. At the point when a demonstration becomes unthinkable or unlawful because of unexpected conditions that the promisor has no control over, the whole agreement is delivered void.

The case of Satyabrata Ghose v. Mugneeram Bangur and Co. played a pivotal role in shaping the Doctrine of Frustration in the Indian Contract Act. According to this judgment, the doctrine allows for the discharge of contractual obligations when performance becomes impossible.

Position of Doctrine in India

Indian law is inspired chiefly by common law; eventually, it has inherited the concept of absolute liability. In this way, the doctrine of frustration acts as a special case for the hypothesis of absolute liability. In India, the Indian Contract Act of 1872 deals with contracts and the different perspectives connected with them. The term’ frustration of contract’ isn’t characterized anywhere in the Act. However, Section 56 of the Act makes the agreement that is impossible or incapable of being performed void, indicating the doctrine of frustration.

Doctrine of Frustration

Under Section 56 deals with the doctrine of frustration as acts that cannot be performed. Under this doctrine, a promisor is relieved of any liability under a contract in the event of a breach of contract, and the contract will be deemed void.

Section 56 is based on the maxim “les non cogit ad impossibilia”, which means that the law will not compel a man to do what he cannot possibly perform.

The basis of the doctrine of frustration was made sense of by the Supreme Court on account of the case Satyabrata Ghose v. Mugneeram in which Justice Mukherjee held that the fundamental thought after that doctrine of frustration is based on the difficulty of execution of the contract and the articulation disappointment and frustration and impossibility can likewise be utilized as compatible.

As the dictionary indicates, ‘frustration’ signifies the “sensation of being irritated on not accomplishing something you wished”. As far as the contract, a circumstance makes the presentation of an agreement incomprehensible and subsequently, the agreement becomes frustrated. One of the fundamentals of a contract is that it should be fit for being performed. Section 56 of the Indian Contract Act of 1872 pursues an understanding that is incomprehensible and incapable of being performed void.

It provides that:

  • An agreement that is incapable of being performed is itself void.
  • Suppose a contract includes an obligation to perform an act that becomes impossible or illegal after the contract is signed due to unforeseeable circumstances. In that case, the contract is considered void.

The promissory should make up for the non-performance of the agreement. Section 32 of the Indian Contract Act of 1872 arrangements with contingent agreements, subject to the satisfaction of a specific condition or a future occasion. The standard of dissatisfaction goes with the arrangement void when the said Act is impossible or incapable of being performed for reasons outside the control of the social occasions.

Conditions Required to Prove Frustration of Contract

To establish the Doctrine of Frustration, certain conditions must be met in a contract:

  • Existence of a valid contract: The contract must be legally valid and binding.
  • The contract is unperformed: The contract’s performance must be pending.
  • Performance has become impossible: Unforeseen events must render the contract impossible to perform.
  • The impossibility results from uncontrollable events: The impossibility must arise from events beyond the parties’ control.

Effects of the Doctrine

The following are the effects or consequences of the doctrine of frustration:

  • The doctrine terminates the contract automatically.
  • It puts an end to the rights of parties to a contract.
  • It discharges the parties from their obligations and duties.
  • If the promissory knows that the contract or agreement is incapable of being performed or is likely to know the same, they must compensate the other party for the non-performance of the contract.


The Doctrine of Frustration, as mentioned in Section 56 of the Indian Contract Act 1872, is arrangements with those situations where the exhibition of agreement has been frustrated, and the presentation of it has become difficult to perform because of any undeniable explanation or condition. This doctrine is treated as an exemption from the overall guideline, which accommodates compensation in the event of a contract break.

The doctrine of frustration is an idea of English or Roman regulation. It was consolidated in the Indian regulation since regulations in India are generally roused by the common law. The doctrine settles on any contract or agreement that is unequipped for being performed or turns out to be so after it is made void and releases the parties from their liabilities referred to in the contract. It is impliedly referenced in the Indian law Section 56 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

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G.Durghasree B.A.B.L (Hons)

G Durghasree B.A.B.L (Hons) is a registered trademark attorney with extensive experience as an Advocate for a period of 8 years. She possesses expertise in trademark law, including trademark filing and trademark hearings. Additionally, she is skilled in contract drafting and reviewing, providing legal advice and opinions, particularly in the areas of Company Law, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), and Goods and Service Tax Law (GST). Her experience encompasses both litigation and non-litigation aspects of these laws.