A contract is discharged or is at an end when the parties have performed all the terms of the contract.

This can be illustrated by the example of a contract for the sale and purchase of goods.  The contract will be performed when goods corresponding to the requirements (description) have been delivered.

Re Moore and Landauer [1921] 2 KB 519

Moore and Landauer (1921)  led to what some may see as a harsh decision.  A contract provided for the sale of 3,000 tins of canned fruit.  The tins of fruit were to be packed in cases of 30 tins. It was discovered on delivery that half the cases contained only 24 tins although the total number of tins was still 3,000. The market value was not affected. The Court of Appeal invoked the Sale of Goods Act and held that, notwithstanding that there was no loss, the buyer could reject the whole consignment because goods must correspond with the description.

Another harsh decision can be found in Cutter v Powell (1795).  The facts were that a seaman who was to be paid his wages after the end of a voyage died just a few days away from port. A court ruled that his widow was not able to recover any of his wages because he had not completed performance of his contractual obligations which came to an end on arrival at port. The Merchant Shipping Act 1970 has now overridden this ruling.

The harshness of the rule may be mitigated in a number of situations and these include: divisible contracts; acceptance of partial performance; where completion of performance is prevented by the other party; substantial performance and where performance is not possible but has been tendered.





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