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Publication Date

11-18-2022

Abstract

The frustration of purpose doctrine is a contracts defense that has garnered increased interest since the COVID-19 pandemic’s initial wave. To manage this public health emergency, many governments have issued orders restricting the operation of businesses. These orders, while necessary, put commercial lessees in a bind once it came time to pay rent because these restrictions drastically cut their profits. Other frustrating events, like war and natural disasters, cause the same problems, yet the current frustration of purpose doctrine is too narrow to be practically helpful to these lessees. This Note examines the English and Canadian frustration doctrines and draws on both in proposing two alterations to the American doctrine. These alterations would remedy the doctrine’s ineffectiveness, brought to light recently by the COVID-19 pandemic, and would attempt to ensure that the risk now falls on the party better equipped to bear it—the lessor.

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