Hochster v. De La Tour Case Brief

Summary of Hochster v. De La Tour
Queen’s Bench [1853]

Relevant Facts: Df entered into an agreement where Df would engage Pl as a courier under Df’s employ to commence on a future date, where they would travel into a foreign country in that capacity on that day, for a monthly salary for a term of three months. Prior to the date of departure the Df renounced the agreement

Legal Issue(s): Whether Df may, before the day of the agreed upon hiring of Pl as a courier, renounce the agreement, entitling Pl to recover damages where Pl was ready, and willing to perform the service until it was renounced by Df?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure:

Law or Rule(s): Where there is a K to do an act on a future date, there is a relation between the parties, that they impliedly promise that in the meantime neither will do any thing to the prejudice of the other inconsistent with that relation.

Court Rationale: Both parties were engaged to each other and it seems to be a breach of an implied contract if either of them renounces the engagement. The Pl has no remedy unless he treats the K as being in force and acts upon it on the prescribed date by not accepting any other employment which would interfere with his promise. After the renunciation of the agreement by the Df, the Pl should be at liberty to consider himself absolved from any future performance, retaining his right to sue for any damage he has suffered from the breach. Df is at liberty to seek service under another employer, which would go to mitigating the damages. The Df after renouncing the K, should be permitted to object that faith is given to his assertion.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The renunciation by the Df was a breach of K, and Pl is entitled to damages therefrom.

Defendant’s Argument: There could be no breach of K before the day the performance was due to begin.



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