Do parties have an unfettered right to exclude or limit their liability for breach of contract – Part 1

Introduction

The law of damages in India is codified in Sections 73 and 74 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (“Contract Act”). Section 73 of the Contract Act provides that a party that suffers breach of contract is entitled to receive from the party that has broken the contract, compensation for any loss or damage caused to him thereby, which naturally arose in the usual course of things from such breach or which the parties knew, when they made the contract, to be likely to result from a breach. Section 73 of the Contract Act bars the grant of compensation for remote and indirect loss or damage sustained on account of breach of contract.

This bifurcation between damages towards losses, which naturally arise in the usual course of things (first limb) and losses that the parties knew, when they made the contract, to be likely to result from a breach of the contract (second limb), appears to be borrowed from the principle laid down in the celebrated English decision of Hadley v. Baxendale.[1] The first limb is popularly referred to as general damages, whilst the second limb is referred to as special damages i.e. additional loss caused by a breach on account of special circumstances, outside the ordinary course of things, which was in the contemplation of the parties.
Continue Reading Do parties have an unfettered right to exclude or limit their liability for breach of contract? – Part I

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

Introduction

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

Injunction against encashment or invocation of Bank Guarantees

 Introduction 

The restraining of the invocation of a bank guarantee has traditionally been one of the less ventured into areas of law. In India as well as in common law, Courts have laid down strict standards and thresholds for judicial intervention, and only in the rarest cases would Courts allow an injunction against invocation of a bank guarantee. This trend, however, is changing and evolving constantly.

A bank guarantee is a written tripartite contract given by a bank (say, A), on behalf of its customer (say, B) in relation to a particular commercial contract with a third-party (say, C). By issuing this guarantee, Bank A takes responsibility of paying a fixed sum of money in case of non-performance of contractual obligations by B towards C.
Continue Reading Injunction against encashment/invocation of Bank Guarantees: evolution of “Fraud” and “Special Equities”