Divisible contract

A contract which contains agreements which can be separated one from the other.

Contracts can be entire or divisible.

Contracts can be said to be divisible if the nature of the contract is liable to division or apportionment. If an obligation is due to the same person at the same time it is most likely to be entire if the obligation is due to different persons it could be divisible.

If there is a contract to deliver goods by instalments, and the price for the goods is fixed for the item or the instalment the contract could be divisible, or  it may constitute a series of separate contracts.

If some contractual promises are divisible, the right to demand payment will arise as each part of the contract is performed.

An example of a divisible contract is Roberts v Havelock (1832). A shipwright agreed to repair a ship. The contract did not expressly state when payment was to be made. He chose not to go on with the work. It was held that the shipwright was not bound to complete the repairs before claiming some payment. He was entitled to payment as each complete repair was a separate part of the contract.

An example of an entire contract is Sumpter v Hedges (1898). The plaintiff agreed to erect upon the defendant's land two house and stables for £565. He did part of the work to the value of about £333 and then abandoned the contract. The defendant completed the buildings. The Court held that the plaintiff could not recover the value of the work done, as he had abandoned the contract. He was not entitled to anything since the defendant had not accepted the part performance or prevented performance and the contract was not divisible.

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