Lawyers give dire warnings to their clients (or at least I do), when the contract provides that “time is of the essence”. For instance, if you are a minute late in carrying out a certain term then you will lose out. But if pressed your lawyer may concede that like most things in law “it all depends”.
Having established over the centuries a hard line on time being of the essence and that is that, the courts have been beset by reasons where they should relax their decision e.g. accident, surprise or mistake. Or a harsh or unfair outcome, such as the receipt by the vendor of an unmerited windfall or unconscionability (meaning foul play).
Lawyers have worked hard to create exceptional circumstances where the court has reluctantly given some flexibility. For instance, a short delay if your lawyer misses the bus and is late for the completion. Lawyers get less leeway in commercial matters where they are expected to have their own car.
It is a brave person who has a casual approach to obligations in the contract which are “time of the essence”.
However, most parties just want to get on with the contract and therefore adopt a practical rather than a legal approach. This can be a great relief to your lawyer depending on the way he has handled the contract.
© Paul Brennan 2018. All rights Reserved.