INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872Act lays down principles of - formation, - performance, - enforceability of contractsAnd, rules relating to Special type of contracts, viz., indemnity, guarantee, bailment, pledge & agency.
Law of ContractCONTRACT – S.2(h) “An agreement enforceable by law” or, an agreement made with an intention to create a legal obligation (enforceable by law)AGREEMENT – S.2(e) “Every promise and every set of promises forming the consideration for each other”PROMISE: S.2(b) “When the person to whom the proposal is made signifies his assent thereto, the proposal is said to be accepted. A proposal when accepted becomes a promise” An agreement is an accepted proposal.
What is a Contract?Sec.2(h) – A contract is an agreement enforceable by law. The contract must be definite & its purpose should create a legal relationship.The agreements must satisfy two things viz.,i) Intention to be bound, &ii) consideration
Essentials of Contracts 1. Agreement 2. Legal Obligation 3. Free & Genuine Consent 4. Parties Competent to Contract 5. Lawful Consideration 6. Lawful Object 7. Agreement not declared Void 8. Certainty of Meaning 9. Possibility of Performance 10. Necessary Legal formalities
Agreement Has 2 elements viz., i) A proposal/offer, and ii) Acceptance of that proposal/offer Offeror and Offeree – 2 parties Same thing in same sense – consent A contract which is an agreement enforceable in law has two elements viz; i) An agreement ii) Legal obligation
AgreementOffer or Proposal When a person indicates to another, his willingness to do or abstain from doing anything, with a view to obtaining an assent of that other person to such act or abstinence, he said to make a proposal or offerAcceptance when the person to whom the proposal is made signifies his assent thereto, the proposal is said to be accepted. In other words, acceptance is the manifestation of the offeree of his consent to the terms of the offer.
Legal Obligation Intention to create legal relationship Belfour Vs Belfour Case (1919) –Social/Domestic agreements not contract. Parties didn‟t intend to create legal relations Commercial or social, domestic agreements must have some presumptions to show legal obligations to be a contract
Free & Genuine Consent Contract should not be obtained by - misrepresentation - Fraud - Undue influence - Coercion - mistake If any of above flaw exists in a contract it will be held as void
Parties Competent to Contract Who is a competent party? Of majority age i.e., not a minor Of sound mind – lunatic, idiot, drunkenness, status Not disqualified by any law to which he is subject Flaw if any, contract becomes unenforceable, except in exceptional circumstances
Lawful Consideration Is price for the promise of the other – need not be in terms of money If not supported by consideration – bare consideration – nudum pactum – contract not enforceable Must be real & lawful Each party must promise something and receive something
Lawful ObjectOBJECT Not disapproved by law Does not defeats any provision of law Where it is not fraudulent Not injurious to another person or property Not immoral Not opposed to public policy
Agreement not declared Void Although an agreement contains all the elements yet, certain agreements are declared illegal or void agreements, such as; Restraining marriage Restraining trade Restraining legal proceedings Wagering agreements
Certainty of Meaning Specific (say cloth, oil type) Shouldn‟t be vague Punit Beriwala Vs. Suva Sanyal (1998) – Agreement to agree
Possibility of Performance Agreement to do an act impossible –cannot be enforced Eg; Discover treasure by magic Based on the maxim – Law does not compel to do what is impossible (Lex non cogit ad aimpossibilia) At the time of entering into contract, was capable of being performed, but subsequently become impossible or unlawful – Known as doctrine of supervening impossibility, doctrine of frustration
Necessary Legal formalities Contract may oral or in writing However, certain cases documented, comply with formalities of writing, registering, attestation, stamp duty Made in presence of a witness Agreements which must be writing - time barred debt - arbitration agreement - lease agreement for more than 3 yrs. - contract of insurance - negotiable instruments - memorandum & article of association - transfer of immovable property & so on
Necessary Legal formalities Contracts which must be registered: - promise w/o consideration out of natural love & affection between parties of near relation - documents u/s 17 of Registration Act - transfer of immovable properties under TPA,1882 - Memorandum & Art. Of Association, Mortgage and Charges under Co.Act,1956
Necessary Legal formalities Instruments those chargeable under Indian Stamps Act,1894- Negotiable instruments- Insurance Policy- Partition Deed- Share/ Debenture Certificates- Pledge- Mortgage Deeds Unstamped or under stamped , improperly stamped instruments not admitted in evidence
All essential elements must exist together in a contract, to be a legal and valid agreement or simply called a contract But, if any one of the elements is missing, the contract is either voidable, void, illegal or unenforceable in law
Types of Contracts Contracts are classified in terms of their :1. Validity or enforceability2. Mode of formation3. Performance
1. Validity or enforceable contracts Valid Contract - Has all essential elements Voidable Contract Void Contract Illegal Contract Unenforceable Contract - Some elements are missing
Voidable Contract Affected by a flaw, say misrepresentation, fraud, coercion, undue-influence, mistake which may repudiated at the option of of aggrieved party Till it is set aside, it remains valid & binding (patient-medical attdt-undue infl.)
Void Contract - S.2(i) An agreement not enforceable by either of the parties to it, is void (restitution) Such agreement is w/o any legal effect ab- initio (eg; engaging auditorium, destroyed – fire before function) eg, contract with minor, mistake of fact, unlawful object/consideration, w/o consideration, restraint of marriage/trade/legal proceedings, uncertain /wagering/impossible agreements, agreement to entering into agreement in future Contract valid at formation, becoming void later – subsequent impossibility/illegality
Illegal Contract Where object or consideration is: Forbidden by law Defeats provision of a law (Contract for wheat-Govt. ordnanace-sale wheat only from fair price shop) Fraudulent Involves injury to person/property Immoral under law Opposed to public policy Wagering agreement (in Mumbai) (agreemnt div. of gains acqrd by fraud/promise-employt for payment) (A bets with B, losses, reqst C 4 loan, C pays B/settles A‟s loss. C cannot recover from A)
Unenforceable Contract They are neither void or voidable Cannot be enforced in court as it lacks some item of evidence such as writing, registration or stamping Unstamped /under stamped, if stamp required for merely revenue, defect can be cured by affixing required stamp/penalty. Technical defects cannot be cured. Remains unenforceable eg, un-stamped negotiable instrument
2. Mode of Formation Express Contract Where the terms of the contract are stated clearly in words – written or spoken Implied Contract Where terms of contract are inferred from conduct of parties or circumstances (Bus travel) Quasi-contracts (Essence of a valid contract is on agreement) Sometimes, obligation is created by law, where an obligation is imposed on a party & action is allowed to be brought by another party (providing necessaries for minor/ leaving goods in another‟s place by mistake-use)
3. Performance Executed Contract Where parties have completely performed their obligations & nothing remains to be done Executory Contract Where parties have still to perform their share of obligation; something has been left out still to be performed by both the parties. (Union of India Vs. Chaman lal Loona(1957) Uni-lateral (pays bus fare-one party has fulfilled his part) Bi-lateral (A contract is a contract from the time it is made & not from the time of performance is due.Performance can be at the time contract is made or it can be postponed either in full or part)
OFFER „When one person signifies to another, his willingness to do or to abstain from doinganything, with a view to obtaining the consent of that other person towards such act orabstinence, he is said to be making an offer or proposal.‟
Types of Offer Express Offer Implied Offer Specific Offer General OfferThe offer is the starting point in the process of making an agreementEvery agreement begins with one party offering to do/sell something or to provide a service etc
Essentials of an Offeri) Terms of must be definite, unambiguos, & certain or capable of being made certainii) Every offer should be communicated, ie., offeree must have the knowledge of the offeriii) An offer cannot contain a term, the non-compliance of which would to amount to acceptanceiv) Offer must have a intention of creating a binding, mere statement does not amount to an offerv) Must have intention to create a legal relationshipvi) Must be made with a view to obtain assent theretovii) If no time is fixed within which the offer is to be accepted, the offer does not remain open for an indefinite periodviii) A offer must be distinguished from a mere invitation to offerix) Offer may be „positive‟ or „negative‟x) Two identical cross-offers do-not result in a contract
AcceptanceDefinition:„An acceptance is the act of manifestation by the offeree of his intention to the terms of offer and willingness to be bound by the terms of the offer communicated to him.‟ An agreement emerges from the acceptance of an offer. Acceptance is the second stage of a contract.
Essentials of Valid Acceptancei) Must be absolute & unqualified & according to the terms of offerii) To be made by the offereeiii) Communicated to the offeroriv) After receiving the offerv) Before the offer lapses-within the time periodvi) Mode of Communication, if any, must be as prescribed in the offervii) In case of rejection of offer – a renewal of offer required
ConsiderationDefinition:It is the price for which the promise of the other is bought.A contract is basically a bargain between two parties, each receiving „something‟ of benefit to them. This „something‟ is described as consideration.Eg., Price for the goods sold
Essentials of ConsiderationEssentials for a valid Consideration:i) At the desire of the promisorii) May move from the promisee or any other personiii) Must be an act, abstinence or promiseiv) May be past ,present or futurev) Need not be adequatevi) Must be real & competentvii) Must be legal
No Consideration, No ContractThe general rule :‘ex-nudo-pacto non-oritur actio’ i.e.,Out of a naked pact, no cause of action can arise.An agreement without consideration is void.A promise in order to be enforceable must have consideration, because only a consideration can establish legal obligation & create legal rights between the parties
No Consideration, No ContractConsideration is the very essential element of anycontract to create legal rights between the partiesThe law insists on existence of consideration if apromise is to be enforced as legal obligationThe law provides no remedy to compel a party toperform his promise on an agreement madewithout considerationA promise without consideration is null & void.
Exceptions to the RuleRule: (Sec.25) Agreement without consideration is voidHowever, consideration not necessary in:i) Agreement made on account of love & affectionii) Compensation for past voluntary serviceiii) Promise to pay a time-barred debtiv) Giftsv) Agency
Doctrine of Privity of ContractRelationship subsisting between the parties with contractual obligations.Implies mutuality of will & creates a legal bond or tie between the partiesIt has 2 consequences:1. Person not party to a contract cannot sue, even though the contract is for his benefit & he has provided consideration.2. A contract cannot confer rights or impose obligation arising under it on any person other than the parties to it. Eg, if there is contract between A & B, C cannot enforce it.
Capacity of PartiesEssential element of enforceability agreement:Parties should possess contractual capacity (S.10)Contractual Capacity: Not defined A person who is major, of sound mind, and is not disqualified from contracting by law is competent to enter into a valid contract(S.11) – inference of contractual capacity: contracting parties should be capable of understanding it and of form a rational judgment of its effect on their interest. They should also not be disqualified by law to enter into a contract
Persons Not Competent to Contract(S.11)Mental Deficiencyi) Minorsii) Of Unsound Mind a) Idiots b) Insane c) Drunkards/intoxicatedLegal Disabilityiii) Disqualified by law a) Aliens b) Foreign sovereigns & ambassadors c) Convicts d) incorporated institutions like joint stock companies, societies, trusts etc. e) insolvents f) married women (prior to 1956)
Minor A contract with a minor is void ab-initio (In England- minor contract is voidable at the option of minor) A minor cannot be asked to refund any benefit received under a void agreement He is not estopped to plead minority even where he falsely represents himself to be of full age A minor „s contract cannot be ratified by him on attaining majority He cannot be a partner in a partnership firm. He can be admitted to the benefits of an already existing partnership Minor can be a promisee or a beneficiary, He cannot bind himself by a contract, but there nothing in Act which prevents him from making other party to be bound to the minor. His estate is liable to a person who supplies necessaries of life to him His parents/guardians are not liable to a minor‟s creditor‟s on his breach of contract He can be an agent
Free Consent(S.13) defines consent as “ Two or more persons are said to consent when they agree upon the same thing in the same sense.”Free Consent (S.14): consent is said to be free when it is not caused by –i) Coercionii) Undue influenceiii) Fraudiv) Misrepresentationv) MistakeA contract to be valid it is not only necessary that parties consent, but also that they consent freelyWhere there is consent, but not free consent, the contract is voidable at the option of the party whose consent was not free
CoercionCoercion is a committing or threatening to commit some act which is contrary to lawConsent is said to be caused by coercion when it is obtained by either of the following acts:i) Committing or threatening to commit any act forbidden by the IPC, orii) Unlawful detaining or threatening any propertyDuress: English equivalent of coercionConsequence of Coercion: when consent is caused by coercion, the contract is voidable at the option of the party whose consent was obtained.
Undue InfluenceA contract is said to induced by undue influence where:i) A party is in a position to dominate the will of the other, andii) Is in a position to obtain unfair advantage over the otherDominating position may be:i) One dominating, holds a real or apparent authority over other eg. Master-servantii) Dominator stands in fiduciary relation to other eg, father –soniii) Dominator makes a contract with a person whose mental capacity is temporarily/permanently affected eg, old illiterate personIt‟s a voidable contract
FraudFraud is a misrepresentation of facts made to induce to enter into a contract with intention to deceive or cheat.includes:a) The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true by one who does not believe it to be true.b) Active concealment of a fact by one having knowledge or belief of the factc) A promise made without intention of performing itd) Any other act fitted to deceivee) Any such act or omission which law declares to be fradulent
MisrepresentationMisrepresentation means an innocent mis- statement of fact to the contract made by one party to induce the other to enter into a contract. (no desire of deceiving or defraud)Classified into 3 groups:1. A +ve assertion, in a manner not warranted (by the information of the person making it), of that which is not true, though believes it to be true.2. Any breach of duty which, without intent to deceive gives advantage to the person committing it, by misleading another to his pre-judice3. Causing, however innocently, a party to an agreement to make a mistake as to the substance of thing which is subject of agreement
MisrepresentationConsequences:Party wronged can;1. Avoid agreement, or2. Insist contract be performed & he be put in position in which he would have been, if the representation made had been trueUnlike fraud, misrepresentation doesn‟t entitle a party to claim damages (subject to exceptions)Exceptions: Breach of warranty of authority of an agent. Where agent believes that he has authority to represent the principal, while in fact he has no such authority, agent liable to damages, though he is guilty of innocent representation Negligent representation made by one person to another between whom a confidential relation exists, solicitor – client, father – daughter. However, if the party whose consent was caused by misrepresentation had means of discovering truth with ordinary diligence, he has no remedy.
Distinction between Misrepresentation & Fraud1. Fraud is committed with intention to deceive while entering into contract, whereas in misrepresentation is due to innocence, without intention to deceive or gain advantage.2. Both voidable at the option of the wronged. But, in case fraud, party wronged gets additional remedy to sue for damages. In misrepresentation claim for damages arises only in exceptional cases.3. In both cases contract can be avoided. However, in case of misrepresentation, if the party whose consent is caused had the means of discovering the truth with ordinary diligence, contract cannot be avoided.
Mistake Mistake means erroneous belief or wrong notion concerning some fact. Consent is not free when agreement is entered into under mistake. Parties entering into contracts should not be under any error They must agree on the same thing in the same sense „Consensus ad-idem‟ must be present Salomon describes contracts as “error in cause”Consequence:Mistakes render a contract void. Party complaining of the mistake may repudiate it, i.e., need not perform it.If executed, party receiving any advantage must restore , or compensate for it, as soon as the contract is discovered to be void.
Types MistakesTwo types:1. Mistake of Law2. Mistake of Facts Mistake of Lawi) Mistake of the law of the landii) Mistake of foreign lawiii) Mistake of private right of the parties Mistake of FactI) Bilateral mistakeII) Unilateral mistake
Mistake of Law1. Mistake of law of land: The rule is “ignorance of law is no excuse”A contract is not voidable because it was caused by a mistake as to any in force in India.2. Mistake of foreign law:The maxim “ ignorance of law is no excuse” applies only to law of the country & not to foreign law.The mistake of foreign law is treated as mistake of factS.21 – “A mistake as to a law not in force in India has the same effect as a mistake of fact.”3. Mistake of Private right of the parties:Mistake of the private right of the parties is also excusable. Such mistake stands on the same footing as the mistake of fact & the contract can be avoided on the ground of mistake
Mistake of Fact1. Bilateral mistake: When both parties are under a mistake of fact essential for the agreement, the mistake called bilateral mistake of fact & the agreement is void(An erroneous value of the thing which forms subject matter is not to be deemed a mistake as to matter of fact)Bilateral mistake may be:A) Mistake as to the subject matterB) Mistake as to the possibility of performance
Mistake of FactMistake as to the subject matter The subject matter may be of reg:i) Existenceii) Identityiii) Titleiv) Qualityv) Quantityvi) PriceMistake as to the possibility of performance If both parties believe that the agreement is capable of being performed though it is not, the agreement is void
Mistake of FactUnilateral mistake:When one of the contracting parties is at mistake it is known as unilateral mistake. Generally in such situation the contract is not invalid.S.22- “A contract is not voidable merely because it was caused by one of the parties to it under a mistake as to a matter of fact”A party cannot be allowed to avoid a contract merely on the ground of his own mistake which may be due to his own negligence or carelessnessHowever, there are exceptions
Mistake of FactExceptions (Unilateral mistakes):1. Mistake as to the identity of the person contracted with2. Mistake as to nature of the contract3. Mistake as to quality of the promise
Quasi Contract“Under certain circumstances, the law imposes, certain rights & obligations similar to that arises from a true contract, even though there is no contract, express or implied, between parties.”Such contracts are termed as quasi- contracts (Dr.Jenks) This is based on maxim that „no man must grow rich out of another person‟s cost‟. It is based on equitable principal, „ that a person shall not be allowed unjustly to enrich himself at the expense of another‟
Kinds of Quasi Contracts Claim for necessaries supplied to a person incapable of contracting on his account(S.68) Reimbursement of a person paying money due by another in payment of which he is interested (S.69) Obligation of person enjoying benefit of a non- gratuitous act (S.70) Rights and liabilities of the finder of lost goods(S.71) Liability of persons to whom money is paid or things delivered by mistake or coercion(S.72)
Distinction between Quasi & General Contracts In General Contract obligation is created by the consent of parties , whereas in quasi contract it is imposed by law. As far as claims for damages – there is similarity between because in case of breach of a quasi contract (S.73) ensures same obligations as of general contract The injured party is entitled to same compensation on default
Legality of Object In a contract consideration and object have very little difference. One affects the other. An agreement will not be enforceable if its object or consideration is unlawful According to (S.23) the consideration and the object of an agreement are unlawful in following cases;1. If it is forbidden by law2. If is of such a nature that if permitted, it would defeat provisions of any law3. If it is fraudulent4. If it involves or implies injury to the person or property of another5. If the court regards it as immoral or opposed to public policy
Performance of Contract A contract creates obligations „Performance of Contract‟ means carrying out these obligations (S.37) parties to contract must either perform or offer to perform their respective promises, unless such performance is dispensed or excused under provisions of the Act or any other law
Tender or Offer of Performance When a promisor offers performance of his obligation at the proper time & place, it is known as tender (S.38) If valid tender is made & is not accepted by the promisee, the promisor shall not be responsible for non-performance (nor shall he loose his rights under the contract)
Conditions for a Valid Tender1. Must be unconditional2. Must be made at proper time & place, where promisee has reasonable opportunity of ascertaining that the promisor is able & willing there and then to do the whole of his promise3. The promisee must have reasonable opportunity to see that the thing offered is the thing contracted for
Persons entitled to demand performance1. Promisee2. Legal Representative3. Joint Promisee4. Third Party
Persons bound to perform1. By the Parties (S.37)2. Promisor (S.40)3. Representatives (S.37)4. Agent (S.40)5. Third Party (S.41)Rule: The personal cause of action dies with person concerned
Contracts which Need not be Performed1. If the parties mutually agree to substitute the original contract by a new contract or rescind or alter it (S.62)2. If promisee dispenses with or remits wholly or partly or extends the time or accepts any satisfaction for it (S.63)3. If the person at whose option the contract is voidable, rescinds it (S.64)4. If promisee neglects or refuses to afford promisor reasonablefacility for performance (S.67)
Termination of ContractTermination is the discharge of contractual relationship between partiesModes of Termination of Contract:1. By Performance or Tender2. By Mutual consent3. Subsequent Impossibility of Performance4. By Operation of Law5. By lapse of Time6. By Breach of Contract
Termination of Contract1. By Performance or TenderWhere parties have fulfilled whatever contemplated – contract endsTender: Tender has the same effect of as performance. If promisor tenders performance of his promise but the other party refuses to accept, the promisor stands discharged of his obligation
Termination of Contract2. By Mutual consent:i) Novation ( Substitution)ii) Rescind (Cancel)iii) Alterationiv) Remit (Lesser fulfillment)v) Waiver (Relinquish)vi) Merger (discharge by a inferior right to superior right)
Termination of Contract3. Subsequent Impossibility:Inherent – void ab-initioVoid due to subsequent impossibility (Doctrine of frustration)i) Destruction of subject matter of contract (for no fault of promisor)ii) By death or disablement of the parties (personal causation)iii) By subsequent illegalityiv) By declaration of warv) Non-existence of particular state of things(Exceptions where impossibility does not render contract as void: difficulty-expensive, commercial loss, failure of third person, strike-lockout-civil disturbance, failure of an object)
Termination of Contract4. By Operation of Law:i) By deathii) By insolvencyiii) By mergeriv) By the unauthorised alteration of terms
Termination of Contract5. By lapse of Time: Contracts must be performed within the period of limitation (Limitation Act) The Limitation Act prescribes different limitation period for different kinds of contract If contract is not performed & the party aggrieved does not enforce his rights within limitation period, he is debarred from enforcing the contract After expiry period court will not enforce contract, thus contract gets discharged
Termination of Contract5. By Breach of Contract: Refusal of performance is a breach. When one party refuses to perform, other party is discharged from its liabilityi) Anticipatory breach- breach before the due date of actual performance by refusal to perform or does an act which makes the performance impossibleConsequences of anticipatory breacha) Rescind & sue for damages at onceb) Treat contract as operative & wait for time of performance & hold party liable for non-performance„anticipatory breach‟ does not by itself become discharge of contract. Discharge becomes effective on party aggrieved elects to rescind the contract
Termination of Contractii) Actual breach –a) at the time when performance is dueb) During the course of performance When promisor offers to perform subsequently, whether it should be accepted or refused by the promisee & sue for breach would depend on whether time was an essence of the contractIf time is an essence of the contract is voidable at the option of the promiseeIn case time is not essence of contract, it is not voidable, the promisee is entitled to compensation for breach
Remedies for Breach of ContractThe relief available are:i) Rescissionii) Damages for loss sustainediii) Decree for Specific Performanceiv) Injunctionv) Suit on „Quantum Meruit‟
Remedies for Breach of Contracti) Rescission Aggrieved party may sue to treat contract as rescinded Aggrieved party is freed from all liabilities under the contract Aggrieved party is entitled to compensation(S.75) for loss sustained on breach of contractii) Damagesa. Ordinaryb. Specialc. Vindictive /punitive/exemplaryd. nominal
Remedies for Breach of Contractiii) Specific Performance: Where damages is not a adequate remedy, court may direct the party to breach to carry out his promiseS.P not granted- a) Monetary compensation is adequate, b) Contract of Personal nature – to marry, c) Contract beyond objects laid in Mem. of Associationiv) Injunction:A party to breach of negative terms of contract (party does something which he is not supposed to do), Court may prohibit him from doing so, through an order known as injunction
Remedies for Breach of Contractv) Suit on „Quantum Meruit‟:The phrase means „as much as is merited (earned)‟Rule- A party which has not performed its promise to its entirety, cannot claim performance from the otherHowever, there is an exception to this rule on the basis of „Quantum Meruit‟Right to claim/sue on „Quantum Meruit‟ arises where a contract partly performed has been discharged by the breach of the other party