Legal Definition and Related Resources of Frustration

Meaning of Frustration

The unforeseen termination of a contract or the prevention of its performance by reason of the destruction of the subject matter of the contract or by reason of the impossibility or impracticability of its performance. where the existence of a specific thing is, either by the terms of the contract or in the contemplation of the parties necessary for performance of a promise in the contract, the duty to perform this promise is discharged if the thing is no longer in existence at the time for performance. Glidden Co. v Hellenic Lines Limited, (C.A.N.Y.) 275 F..2d 253. In certain situations when the objectives of the contract have been defeated by unforeseen circumstances arising after formation of the agreement , performance is excused under this rule even though there is no impediment to actual performance. Hess v Dumouchel Paper Co., 225 A.2d 797, 154 Conn. 343. The doctrine has been applied in conditions or circumstances such as war, destruction of the subject matter of the contract, government requisition , and death or illness of a party to a contract of personal service . The doctrine applies to cases where, from the nature of the contract, it could be concluded that the parties must have made their bargain on the footing that a particular thing or state of facts should be in existence when the time for performance occurs. However, the doctrine should not be imported to a contract where it is possible to hold that reasonable men could have contemplated the taking of the risk of the circumstances being what they in fact proved to be when the time for performance arrived.

Synonyms of Frustration


  • abortive attempt
  • defeat
  • failure
  • foil
  • futile effort
  • hindrance
  • impediment
  • inability of performance
  • inability to be completed
  • incapacity
  • interference
  • interruption
  • noncompletion
  • nonfulfillment
  • nonperformance
  • obstruction
  • prevention
  • prevention of accomplishment
  • thwarted expectation
  • thwarting
  • unsatisfied hopes
  • unsuccessfulness Associated Concepts: commercial frustration
  • frustration of purpose
  • frustration under a contract
  • impossibility of performance

Related Entries of Frustration in the Encyclopedia of Law Project

Browse or run a search for Frustration in the American Encyclopedia of Law, the Asian Encyclopedia of Law, the European Encyclopedia of Law, the UK Encyclopedia of Law or the Latin American and Spanish Encyclopedia of Law.

Frustration in Historical Law

You might be interested in the historical meaning of this term. Browse or search for Frustration in Historical Law in the Encyclopedia of Law.

Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms

Search for legal acronyms and/or abbreviations containing Frustration in the Legal Abbreviations and Acronyms Dictionary.

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