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REPUDIATION BY ONE PARTY DOES NOT TERMINATE THE CONTRACT EXCEPT WHERE ACCEPTED

Dictum

In Heyman v. Darwins Ltd. (1949) AC. 356, 361 Viscount Simon L.C. said, “But repudiation by one party standing alone does not terminate the contract. It takes two to end it, by repudiation on the one side, and acceptance of the repudiation on the other.” The proposition is founded on the elementary principles of the formation and discharge of contractual obligations. Where there is a unilateral repudiation of a contract, this is treated as an officer by the guilty part to the innocent party of the termination of the contract. It is the acceptance of the officer by the innocent party which acts as a discharge of the contract. – See Hochster H v. De La Tour (1853) 2 F& B. 678; Johnstone v. Milling (1886) 16 QBD 460. It is then open to the innocent party to sue only for damages since by his acceptance of the repudiation the contract comes to an end. Hence where the innocent party refuses to accept the repudiation the contract remains in existence.

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