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Contract Problem Q assistance. watch

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    I'm having a little trouble with one of the issues in my contract law assignment, and was wondering if someone can point me in the right direction?

    I don't want the answer, simply the name of a case I can read to get along the right lines of the law. This is the details of rthe question...

    > A & B have a contract for B to drive over A's land on weekdays, for 2 years, in return for a collection of coins.

    > The land becomes un-drivable. A then promises to lay asphalt.

    > Based on the promise, B builds a garage facing A's land.


    > Asphalt never laid. Land un-drivable.

    The part I cm confused about is the parts in bold. And wether this promise is enforceable or not, and whether A is under an obligation to keep the road in a drivable condition.

    As I said, I don't want the answer!, just a case or a rule or SOMETHING, for me to research
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    My thoughts are that the promise of the laying of asphalt isn't enforceable, as there was no consideration from B for the new promise made by A, and past consideration doesn't count. As B relied upon this promise and built his garage - there is nothing that can be done and he has wasted his time and money in doing this.

    However, I believe it is an implied term that A would keep the land in a condition that it can be driven across by B (therefore the garage isn't totally redundant, as the drive should be drivable across), so in fact A is not living up to their obligations of the contract.

    Is this along the correct lines?

    Eventually the contract is breached by B anyway, as he drives on the land at a time when he shouldn't, but that is not the issue at hand in this part of the question haha!
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    (Original post by Knalchemist)
    I'm having a little trouble with one of the issues in my contract law assignment, and was wondering if someone can point me in the right direction?

    I don't want the answer, simply the name of a case I can read to get along the right lines of the law. This is the details of rthe question...

    > A & B have a contract for B to drive over A's land on weekdays, for 2 years, in return for a collection of coins.

    > The land becomes un-drivable. A then promises to lay asphalt.

    > Based on the promise, B builds a garage facing A's land.


    > Asphalt never laid. Land un-drivable.

    The part I cm confused about is the parts in bold. And wether this promise is enforceable or not, and whether A is under an obligation to keep the road in a drivable condition.

    As I said, I don't want the answer!, just a case or a rule or SOMETHING, for me to research
    I really can't remember the subtle nuances of contract, but this sounds a bit like a unilateral contract (e.g. reward for return of lost dog). You might find this essay, written by a Cambridge academic, useful in getting things straight in your mind.

    (This is assuming we're dealing with English law!)
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    (Original post by Tortious)
    I really can't remember the subtle nuances of contract, but this sounds a bit like a unilateral contract (e.g. reward for return of lost dog). You might find this essay, written by a Cambridge academic, useful in getting things straight in your mind.

    (This is assuming we're dealing with English law!)
    Yes this is definitely English law haha!

    I know it is a bilateral contract, as the offer was for one party to let the other use their land, in return for some rare coins.

    It's just that bold bit I'm struggling with. If I say it is enforceable then the contract has been breached. If I say it isn't enforceable, then no breach has occurred.
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    (Original post by Knalchemist)
    Yes this is definitely English law haha!

    I know it is a bilateral contract, as the offer was for one party to let the other use their land, in return for some rare coins.

    It's just that bold bit I'm struggling with. If I say it is enforceable then the contract has been breached. If I say it isn't enforceable, then no breach has occurred.
    I think that might be the heart of the issue.

    I'd agree that the "use of land for coins" part is bilateral. However - and I don't know - could it be argued that there's a separate unilateral contract in relation to the garage/asphalt?

    I suspect that the answer is no if A didn't intend to induce B into acting in a certain way, but essentially what happens is that A promises to lay the asphalt. In reliance on this, B builds the garage. This meets the criteria set out in the essay linked above, which suggests to me that you'd have to decide whether there's a separate unilateral contract, or whether it's still part of the one main bilateral one. :dontknow:
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    (Original post by Tortious)
    I think that might be the heart of the issue.

    I'd agree that the "use of land for coins" part is bilateral. However - and I don't know - could it be argued that there's a separate unilateral contract in relation to the garage/asphalt?

    I suspect that the answer is no if A didn't intend to induce B into acting in a certain way, but essentially what happens is that A promises to lay the asphalt. In reliance on this, B builds the garage. This meets the criteria set out in the essay linked above, which suggests to me that you'd have to decide whether there's a separate unilateral contract, or whether it's still part of the one main bilateral one. :dontknow:
    It is a difficult one.

    I think that they have a bilateral contract here. The promise to lay the asphalt, I believe, it the heart of the issue. And the end result is determined by how this issue is interpreted.

    I think it has to do with whether A had an obligation (implied term?) to keep the land in a condition that is drivable, to keep the contract running. If there IS an implied term, then it wouldn't matter about the promise, as the obligation is in existence to do SOMETHING to keep the land in a good enough condition.

    However, if no such implied term / obligation exists, then it would come down to whether to not the promise to lay asphalt is enforceable or not? (Which I believe not, as there is no consideration from B at all here).
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    There are only three ways that the laying of asphalt could be a term of any contract:

    1) There is a separate contract for the laying of asphalt. That seems to be out of the question as there is no consideration at all for that agreement.

    2) The agreement to lay asphalt is a variation of the contact allowing B to drive over A's land. But what would the consideration, or even 'practical benefit' be to A as a result of this variation?

    3) That the land was to be covered by asphalt (or at least made driveable in some other way), is an implied term of the original contract, because it is necessary to give business efficacy to the agreement. But given the land was driveable initially this seems like a hopeless contention. You mentioned this possibility in your OP - another point is that even if there is such a term, B's loss seems to be a bit remote to claim damages, he might have more chance trying to specifically enforce the agreement to make the land driveable, though?

    In English law, of course, B can't use the fact that A is estopped from denying that he would asphalt his land as a claim in itself. That would be to use promissory estoppel as a sword. If you think about the Australian case of Walton Stores v Maher, it is very similar to these facts, but that wouldn't fly under the law as it stands at the moment in England. (And even in Australia, I think B's act of reliance is just totally unreasonable here).

    Have you considered a claim in tort for negligent misstatement? Though even that seems like it would struggle to get off the ground, for three reasons (1) Was A's statement that he would asphalt his road intended to be relied on? (2) Was B's reliance on it, in building a garage, reasonable? (3) Can you have a claim in negligent misstatement where the statement is one of future intention "I will asphalt my land"?

    Hmm, if A is just deliberately lying to B then B might have a claim in the tort of deceit? Good luck proving that, though.

    In short I think B is likely to fail on all grounds. That makes sense given that Walton Stores is not currently good English law. Walton Stores must be an a fortiori case to this, because the reliance there was at least reasonable...
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    There are only three ways that the laying of asphalt could be a term of any contract:

    1) There is a separate contract for the laying of asphalt. That seems to be out of the question as there is no consideration at all for that agreement.

    2) The agreement to lay asphalt is a variation of the contact allowing B to drive over A's land. But what would the consideration, or even 'practical benefit' be to A as a result of this variation?

    3) That the land was to be covered by asphalt (or at least made driveable in some other way), is an implied term of the original contract, because it is necessary to give business efficacy to the agreement. But given the land was driveable initially this seems like a hopeless contention. You mentioned this possibility in your OP - another point is that even if there is such a term, B's loss seems to be a bit remote to claim damages, he might have more chance trying to specifically enforce the agreement to make the land driveable, though?

    In English law, of course, B can't use the fact that A is estopped from denying that he would asphalt his land as a claim in itself. That would be to use promissory estoppel as a sword. If you think about the Australian case of Walton Stores v Maher, it is very similar to these facts, but that wouldn't fly under the law as it stands at the moment in England. (And even in Australia, I think B's act of reliance is just totally unreasonable here).

    Have you considered a claim in tort for negligent misstatement? Though even that seems like it would struggle to get off the ground, for three reasons (1) Was A's statement that he would asphalt his road intended to be relied on? (2) Was B's reliance on it, in building a garage, reasonable? (3) Can you have a claim in negligent misstatement where the statement is one of future intention "I will asphalt my land"?

    Hmm, if A is just deliberately lying to B then B might have a claim in the tort of deceit? Good luck proving that, though.

    In short I think B is likely to fail on all grounds. That makes sense given that Walton Stores is not currently good English law. Walton Stores must be an a fortiori case to this, because the reliance there was at least reasonable...
    I have re-read the entire question, and it states that the land "is becoming difficult to drive on", after one month. However, the question states that several months later A saw B driving across their land "last saturday" (a time not stipulated in the agreement).

    So, although the land is difficult to drive across, it isn't un-drivable as I first thought.

    I think this may change the dynamics of the answer.

    The answer is asking me to advise B on the enforceability of A's promises.

    So, therefore in my answer I would state that:
    > A contract definitely exists between A and B.

    > The promise to lay asphalt is not enforceable - lack of consideration from B.

    > B can still drive across the land, and is continuing to do so. Therefore, A hasn't breached the contract at all, as A is still living up to their promise.

    > B's decision to build the garage is not redundant, as he is able to continue using the land to drive on - so the garage is still useful and in use.

    > B actually breaches the contract by driving over the land on a Saturday, whilst the agreement was for weekdays only.

    So, the original promise to let B drive on A's land is enforceable, whilst the promise to lay asphalt is not enforceable. Obviously, A has not breached the agreement, so no remedies are available to B.

    However, would I need to include anything about B's breach? And the fact that A now wants to end the agreement?
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    (Original post by Knalchemist)
    > B.... driving over the land on a Saturday, whilst the agreement was for weekdays only.
    Might that not just be a trespass (because B has no permission to be on the land), rather than a breach of contract? Would B walking across A's land be a breach of contract? Would B punching A in the face be a breach of contract?

    I think my point is that where a contract gives B obligations - "B must do X", it is easy to see that the contract is breached if "B does not do X". But where a contract gives B a right that he would not otherwise have had - "B can do X", it doesn't make much sense (to me at least) to say that the contract is breached if "B does something other than X". How do you decide what 'other things' are a breach of contract? Those 'other things', may, of course, be torts.
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    Might that not just be a trespass (because B has no permission to be on the land), rather than a breach of contract? Would B walking across A's land be a breach of contract? Would B punching A in the face be a breach of contract?

    I think my point is that where a contract gives B obligations - "B must do X", it is easy to see that the contract is breached if "B does not do X". But where a contract gives B a right that he would not otherwise have had - "B can do X", it doesn't make much sense (to me at least) to say that the contract is breached if "B does something other than X". How do you decide what 'other things' are a breach of contract? Those 'other things', may, of course, be torts.
    Ah OK, that makes sense (I haven't studied Tort Law yet so know absolutely nothing about that - that comes next year!)

    The question is asking to advise B on the enforceability of A's promises, so whether B has breached or not is almost meaningless I've come to realise.

    However, it still seems a little too 'simple' that the answer is that they have a contract which is enforceable. However the extra promise isn't enforceable, so there is no breach.

    A wants to end the arrangement. So, I suppose if A wants to end the arrangement, I could briefly go into the ways in which A could frustrate the contract. However, not sure how relevant this would be to the actual question of enforceability. (Although if the contract is frustrated, there would be nothing to enforce!)

    I'm struggling to meet the 2500 word count (without footnotes) here, haha!
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    (Original post by Knalchemist)
    The question is asking to advise B on the enforceability of A's promises, so whether B has breached or not is almost meaningless I've come to realise.
    It's not meaningless because if B has breached the contract, and the breach is repudiatory, then A can opt to treat the contract as at an end, in which case A's promises under it will obviously not be enforceable any more.

    the ways in which A could frustrate the contract.
    What do you mean by this, exactly? If A does some deliberate act that makes the contract impossible to perform, that will be a repudiatory breach that automatically terminates the contract, but it will not be frustration.
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    It's not meaningless because if B has breached the contract, and the breach is repudiatory, then A can opt to treat the contract as at an end, in which case A's promises under it will obviously not be enforceable any more.



    What do you mean by this, exactly? If A does some deliberate act that makes the contract impossible to perform, that will be a repudiatory breach that automatically terminates the contract, but it will not be frustration.
    I think I am losing myself in my text book!

    The only breach I can see, is that B drove across A's land outside of the contract hours, however, as you stated, this wouldn't really be breach, it'd be more trespass. The only breach could be if A stopped letting B use the land.

    I'm just getting really confused now. I seem to think I'm on the right track, then I re-read my text books and get con used by something else.
 
 
 
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