Impossibility Of Performance As A Defense To Breach of Contract

May 16, 2023

Welcome to the informative page on Baytowne Reporting's website dedicated to discussing the concept of Impossibility of Performance as a Defense to Breach of Contract. In this article, we will explore this important legal principle and shed light on its relevance in various contexts.

Understanding Impossibility of Performance

Impossibility of Performance is a legal defense used to protect parties from liability in situations where the fulfillment of contractual obligations becomes objectively impossible. It serves as a recognized defense when a party is unable to deliver or perform its contractual commitments due to an unforeseen, unavoidable, and extreme event that renders performance impossible.

In general, there are two types of impossibility of performance: "objective impossibility" and "subjective impossibility". Objective impossibility refers to occurrences that make the performance of a contract impossible for anyone, regardless of the specific circumstances of the party involved. On the other hand, subjective impossibility refers to situations where a particular party faces unique circumstances that make performance impossible, even though it may still be feasible for others under normal circumstances.

Applications of Impossibility of Performance

Impossibility of performance is a complex legal concept and its application varies depending on the jurisdiction and the specifics of the contract at hand. However, there are certain common scenarios where this defense may be applicable:

1. Acts of God

One common instance where impossibility of performance may arise is in cases of natural disasters or acts of God. These events, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, can severely disrupt business operations and render it impossible for parties to fulfill their contractual obligations within the agreed-upon timeframe. Nevertheless, it is important to note that each case will be evaluated on its own merits and the degree of impossibility will need to be established.

2. Governmental Action

In certain situations, governmental action may impede the performance of a contract. This can occur when new regulations or laws are implemented, making it illegal or impossible to fulfill contractual obligations. However, it is important to consult with legal professionals to ensure the defense of impossibility of performance is valid and will be accepted by the court in such cases.

3. Death or Incapacity

Another circumstance where impossibility of performance can be invoked is when a contracting party dies or becomes incapacitated. In such instances, it may be impossible for the affected party to fulfill their contractual obligations due to physical or mental incapacity, thereby justifying the application of this defense.

Proving Impossibility of Performance

To successfully utilize the defense of impossibility of performance, several key elements need to be established:

  1. Unforeseeable Event: The event rendering performance impossible should be unforeseeable and beyond the control of the party seeking to invoke the defense.
  2. Objective Standard: The impossibility of performance must be objectively proven. It must be shown that the event renders the contract impossible for any party, not just the party seeking to use the defense.
  3. Non-occurrence of Assumed Event: The impossibility of performance must not be due to the non-occurrence of an event that was anticipated, assumed, or accounted for in the contract.
  4. Reasonable Efforts: The party seeking to rely on the defense must demonstrate that reasonable efforts were made to mitigate the impact of the impossibility, which could include seeking alternative solutions, renegotiating terms, or providing adequate notice to the other party.


Impossibility of Performance serves as an important defense to breach of contract claims when unexpected events make the fulfillment of contractual obligations impracticable. Understanding the complexities and requirements of this defense can be crucial for individuals and businesses alike to protect their rights and interests in contractual agreements.

For more detailed guidance and legal assistance regarding Impossibility of Performance as a Defense to Breach of Contract, consult the reputable experts at Baytowne Reporting. With our in-depth knowledge and experience in the field of law, we are committed to providing comprehensive information and reliable services to support your legal needs.