You’ve just booked prime seats, at a premium price, to watch the Coronation. The next thing, it is cancelled! Do you still have to pay up?
This was a question that was considered by the Court of Appeal in London 120 years ago in the context of the cancelled Coronation of King Edward VII due to his ill health.
In June 1902, Mr Henry agreed to rent Mr Krell’s rooms on the third floor overlooking Pall Mall “…during two days (not the nights)”. His intention was to view the Coronation procession. At today’s prices, we are talking around £7,500. As it happened, the event did not take place on those days, and Mr Henry refused to pay the balance. Mr Krell sued.
The High Court, finding for Mr Henry, held that it was an implied condition of their contract that the procession would take place as planned. Mr Krell appealed to the Court of Appeal.
In contract law, frustration occurs when an unforeseen event makes the performance of the contract an impossibility and discharges the parties from their contractual obligations.
The Court of Appeal held that:
“…the coronation procession was the foundation of this contract, and …the non-happening of it prevented the performance of the contract”
The contract was frustrated. Mr Krell’s appeal was dismissed.
King Edward VII recovered and was crowned in Westminster Abbey on 2 August 1902. Parliament later amended the law with the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943.
Wherever you decide to view the Coronation this weekend, spare a thought for Mr Krell and those empty rooms…