Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


John J. Gorman

First Page



There are several doctrines under which contractual obligations have been judicially discharged. This Note will examine the United States doctrine of commercial impracticability or commercial impossibility and the English doctrine of frustration of contract or frustration of the commercial objective. The focus of this Note therefore is on those situations in which discharge from contractual obligations is sought because of supervening economic hardship. Part II provides a brief historical account of the development of the English common law doctrine of impossibility. Part III traces the development of the United States concept of commercial impossibility and commercial impracticability from the early case law to the adoption and application of the Uniform Commercial Code. Part IV reviews the English doctrine of frustration, in which strict language is employed when dealing with the discharge of contractual obligations on commercial hardship grounds. In conclusion, Part V compares the United States and English doctrines and discusses the potential pitfalls presented by differences in the terminology and concepts for parties involved in international contracts.