Denmark Productions Ltd v Boscobel Productions Ltd: CA 1969

Where the award of damages at law may be inadequate, the court may order an account to be taken to determine precisely what is owing by one party to the other.
Salmon LJ doubted whether an unaccepted repudiation could bring an end to a contract of employment in law ‘although no doubt in practice it does’. In law, he thought that the position was (i) that the contract continued in being, (ii) that it would not, however, be specifically enforced because the employee had not worked and had not therefore earned his remuneration; (iii) that the employee’s only remedy was to sue for his lost wages as damages for the employer’s breach in preventing him from earning them (presumably from time to time as they would have fallen due); and (iv) that the only thing that prevented the employee from sitting idle for the rest of the contractual term and collecting damages equal to his lost wages was the condition that he should have taken reasonable steps to mitigate his loss by finding alternative employment.
He descibed the docrine of frustration, saying: ‘This was a doctrine evolved by the Courts to meet the case in which a contract became impossible through some supervening event, not reasonably foreseeable when the contract was made and for which neither contracting party was in any way responsible’.
Sachs LJ agreed, observing that ‘In such cases it is the range of remedies that is limited, not the right to elect.’
Winn LJ said: ‘Where A and B are parties to an executory contract, if A intimates by word or conduct that he no longer intends, or is unable, to perform it, or to perform it in a particular manner, he is, in effect, making an offer to B to treat the contract as dissolved or varied so far as it relates to the future. If B elects to treat the contract as thereby repudiated, he is deemed, according to the language of many decided cases, to ‘accept the repudiation’ and is thereupon entitled (a) to sue for damages in respect of any earlier breach committed by A and for damages in respect of the repudiation, (b) to refrain from himself performing the contract any further.’


Salmon, Sachs, Winn LJJ


[1969] 1 QB 699

Cited by:

CitedSociete Generale, London Branch v Geys SC 19-Dec-2012
The claimant’s employment by the bank had been terminated. The parties disputed the sums due, and the date of the termination of the contract. The court was asked ‘Does a repudiation of a contract of employment by the employer which takes the form . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Damages

Updated: 04 May 2022; Ref: scu.470541