Impossibility Of Performance - Section 56 Of Contract Act


Section 56, of the contract act, deals with the impossibility. If an agreement contains an underwriting to perform impossibility, it is void-ab-initio. (Void). It is of two types:

1. Impossibility existing at the time of contract: “An agreement to do an act impossible in itself is void.” If the parties are interested in an agreement to perform something which is obviously impossible and which may or may not be known to both parties.

a) If it is known to the parties: if at the time of contract both the parties know that the performance of the contract is not possible, the agreement becomes void.

b) If it is not known to the parties: if both the parties do not know about the impossibility, the agreement is void on the ground of mutual mistake.

c) If it is known to the promisor only: if the impossibility of a contract is not known to the promisee and the promisor alone knows of the impossibility then such promise is bonded to compensate the promisee for any loss he may suffer through the non-performance of the promise.

2. Subsequent or supervening impossibility: Impossibility which arises subsequent to the formation of the contract{I.e., a contract to do an act, which after the contract is made} is called post- contractual or supervening impossibility. In such a case the contract is void. The impossibility of performance of a contract, as a general rule, is no excuse for the non-performance of the contract.

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