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Maritime National Fish v Ocean Trawlers [1935] AC 524

The claimant owned five fishing vessels one of which was chartered to the defendants. The fishing vessels were all fitted with otter trawler nets. New legislation was introduced requiring licences to be held by those using otter trawl nets. The claimant applied for five licences but was only granted three. He had to name which vessels the licence would be used on. He named his own vessels and excluded the vessel which the defendant was using. This meant that the defendant was unable to use the vessel for fishing. The claimant sued the defendant for the price of hire and the defendant in his defence stated the defendant had committed a breach in not providing a licence so he was not obliged to pay for the cost of hire. The claimant argued there was no breach as the failure to provide a licence was a frustrating event in that the decision to grant licences rested with the secretary of state.


The contract was not frustrated since the claimant had chosen to keep the three licences granted for himself rather than using one to fulfil his contractual obligation. He had therefore induced the frustrating event and was therefore in breach of contract.

Back to lecture outline on Frustration in Contract Law