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Ending contractual obligations: factors and discharge

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  1. Viating factors
    1. Mistake
    2. Duress and undue influence
    3. Illegality
  2. Discharge of contract
    1. Performance and breach
    2. Frustration
    3. The effect of frustration
    4. Agreement
  3. Remedies of breach of contract

The common law has always taken the view that people enter into contract voluntarily. It follows that if the contract was made without full knowledge of the facts, or if a person was forced to make a contract against his or her will, a court would consider that contract to be banned. The vast majority of contracts are valid and fully binding. However, a contract made in some circumstances can be void for instance, for mistake or illegality or voidable for misrepresentation duress or undue influence. If a contract is void, obviously it has absolutely no legal effect; it is a complete nullity from the very beginning. On the contrary, a voidable contract is valid until one of the parties voids it and until the point when it is voided, it will give rights to legal obligations and rights. A contract may also be unenforceable which means that although there is a contract between the parties, the court will simply not enforce that contract; this is the case for certain types of illegality. The statements made during the negotiation of the contract may be either terms or representations. Terms form part of the contract whereas representations do not, but representations are made by one party to induce the other to enter into the contract. A line must however be drawn between what is called "mere puff" that is to say the sort of things that advertisers tossed in order to make us buy the product and which have no legal effect, and representations which if they are false give rise to an action for misrepresentation. For instance, a sentence like "this washing powder washes whiter than white" is considered like a "mere puff". On the contrary, if while negotiating the sale of a car, A tells B that the car in question has recently had a new clutch fitted and if that statement is false, it is a misrepresentation.

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