• In the case of Maritime National Fish Ltd v Ocean Travellers 1935 ac 624, the key point made is that a contract is not frustrated when the impossibility of performance is induced by the party seeking relief.

Facts of the Case

  • The defendants chartered a steam trawler from the claimants /owners.
  • The claimants had a limited number of licences 3 in total, although they applied for 5.
  • It was required that the claimant’s name which vessels to apply the licences for, which they used all three on their own vessels and excluded the vessel which the defendant was using.
  • Thus, the defendant was unable to use the vessel for fishing. The claimant sued the defendant for the price of the hire. The defendant in his defence stated that the claimant was in breach of the contract because they did not provide a licence, so he was not obliged to pay for the cost of hire.
  • The claimant argued no breach, as the failure to provide a license was a frustrating event because the decision to grant the licences rested with the Secretary of State

Issues in Maritime National Fish Ltd v Ocean Travellers 1935 ac 624

  • Was there a frustration of the charter party because a license was not granted in respect of the steam trawler?
  • Did the characters remain liable for the hire?

Held by Privy Council

  • The decision was held in favour of the defendant.

Lord Wright

  • The essence of frustration is that it should not arise due to the act or election of the party.
  • The contract was declared not to be frustrated since the claimant chose to keep the three licences granted for himself rather than using one to fulfill his contractual obligation. Thus, the claimant had in fact induced the frustrating event and was therefore in breach of contract.