Hochster v. De La Tour
Queens Bench, England - 1853
- P was a courier who entered into an agreement with D to work for him in Europe. He was to begin on June 1.
- On May 11, D changed his mind and told P that he wouldn't require P's services. D refused to make any compensation.
- P filed suit against D on May 22.
- Lower court found for P.
- Appellate court reversed, suit filed before performance was to be done, damages cannot be awarded.
- Queens Bench reversed, found for P, damages can be awarded.
- Can an action for breach of contract be brought before the time the performance in question was supposed to occur?
- An action for breach of contract can be brought at any time after the breach, including before the time the performance in question was supposed to occur.
- Where there is an agreement to do an act on a future day, there is a relation constituted between the parties, and they impliedly promise that in the meantime neither will do anything to the prejudice of the other inconsistent with that relation.
- If the P has no remedy for breach until the date in question, it follows that he cannot enter into other employment before then since that would cause him to breach as well.
- After the renunciation of the agreement by the D, the P should be a liberty to consider himself absolved from any future performance of it, retaining his right to sue.
- It seems reasonable to allow an option to the injured party, either to sue immediately or to wait till the time when the act was to be done.
- Helps to answer the question of what exactly constitutes a breach of contract.