Determinable Contracts

Determinable contracts under the Specific Relief Act,1963 – Part II

In  Part I of this post, we discussed the concept of determinable contracts under the Specific Relief Act, 1963 (the “Act”) and analysed two decisions of the Supreme Court in this regard. In this post, we will examine the decisions of various High Courts which caused some confusion as to what would qualify as a determinable contract under the Act.


As far back as 1999, the Delhi High Court found a joint venture agreement which provided for termination by either party in the event that certain government approvals were not obtained by a specified date, to be determinable in nature.[1] Conspicuously, the court did not refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v. Amritsar Gas Service & Ors.[2]

The most notable result of the lack of clarity in Amritsar Gas (supra) came by way of a decision of the Delhi High Court (Division Bench) in Rajasthan Breweries Ltd. v. The Stroh Brewery Company.[3] The agreements in this case specified certain events which would entitle each party to terminate. Observing that the facts of the case before it were identical to those in Amritsar Gas (supra), the court held that the agreements in this case were determinable and, therefore, not capable of specific performance. The court went so far as to hold that even in the absence of a specific clause enabling either party to terminate the agreement on the happening of specified events, the very nature of the agreement (being a private commercial transaction) made it liable to termination without assigning any reason by serving a reasonable notice. In the event such termination is held to be wrongful or bad in law, the only remedy available to the aggrieved party is to seek compensation for wrongful termination and not specific performance. The decision in Rajasthan Breweries (supra) was applied by the Delhi High Court in subsequent decisions.[4]
Continue Reading Determinable Contracts Under the Specific Relief Act, 1963 – Part II

Determinable contracts under the Specific Relief Act, 1963 – Part I


The remedies most resorted to for breach of contract are damages, specific performance, and injunctions. The remedy of damages is governed by the Indian Contract Act, 1872, whilst specific performance and injunctions are governed by the Specific Relief Act, 1963 (the “Act”).

Prior to the amendment of the Act in 2018, the grant of specific performance was not available as a matter of course but was based on the discretion of the court. Section 10 of the un-amended Act laid down cases in which the court could exercise this discretion viz. when no standard exists for ascertaining the actual damage caused by non-performance of the act agreed to be done or when the act agreed to be done is such that compensation in money for its non-performance would not afford adequate relief. The Specific Relief (Amendment) Act, 2018 substituted Section 10 of the Act, which now provides that specific performance of a contract shall be enforced by the court, subject to Sections 11(2), 14 and 16 of the Act.[1] Section 20 of the un-amended Act, which set out the contours of the court’s discretion and enumerated cases under which the court may exercise discretion not to grant specific performance, was substituted in its entirety with a provision relating to substituted performance. The grant of specific performance of a contract is, therefore, no longer a matter of discretion and must be granted subject to the exceptions set out in the Act.
Continue Reading Determinable contracts under the Specific Relief Act, 1963 – Part I