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Comparative Analysis Between The English Doctrine Of Part Performance And Its Indian Counterpart

The doctrine of part performance is a principle of contract law that recognizes the validity of an incomplete contract, where one or both parties have partially performed their obligations, but the contract remains unenforceable due to a lack of formalities. This research study component will compare the English notion of part performance to its Indian counterpart, as well as important case laws.

English Doctrine of Part Performance:

Under English law, the doctrine of part performance is based on the equitable principle that a party who has acted in reliance on an agreement should not be left without a remedy merely because the agreement was not formally executed. This theory can be employed when an oral agreement for a transfer or sale of land is formed but is not converted to paper or notarized as required under the Law of Frauds.

The doctrine of part performance requires that the following conditions be met:
  • A contract for the sale or transfer of land is required.
  • The buyer must have completed or be prepared to complete a portion of the contract.
  • Partially performed activities must be clearly related to the contract.

If these conditions are met, the court may order specific performance of the contract, even if it does not comply with the formalities required by the Statute of Frauds.

In the case of Maddison v Alderson, the court held that if the acts of part performance are such that they would be "inexplicable" unless there was a contract, then the court may infer the existence of a contract and order specific performance.

Indian Part Performance Doctrine:

Section 53A of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 governs the notion of part performance in Indian law. Section 53A states that if individual contracts to transfer immovable property in exchange for consideration and the transferee takes possession and performs some act in furtherance of the contract, the contract cannot be terminated or dissolved, even if it is not written or registered.

The following conditions must be met for Section 53A to apply:

  • An agreement on tangible assets in exchange for consideration must exist.
  • The person receiving the transfer must have possessed the property.
  • The transferee has to have performed some act in fulfillment of the contract.

If these conditions are met, the transferor is estopped from denying the validity of the contract, and the transferee can enforce specific performance of the contract.

In the case of Rambhau v Laxman, the court held that Section 53A applies only when the transferor has not executed a registered instrument in favour of the transferee. If such an instrument exists, the transferee cannot rely on Section 53A.

There are notable parallels and contrasts between the English and Indian doctrines of part performance. Both doctrines recognize the validity of incomplete contracts, where one or both parties have partially performed their obligations. However, the English doctrine applies only to contracts for the sale or transfer of land, while the Indian doctrine applies to contracts for the transfer of immovable property.

The actions of the part performing must be indisputably accessible to the contract under the English concept. In contrast, the recipient must have taken control of the property and performed some act in the advancement of the transaction under the Indian doctrine. The Indian concept additionally stipulates, but the English concept does not.

In terms of enforcement, both doctrines allow for specific contract performance.

However, the Indian doctrine provides explicitly that the contract cannot be rescinded or annulled, while the English doctrine does not have this provision.

The similarities and differences for the same are as follows:

Part performance is recognised as an exception to the usual norm that a contract must be written down to be enforceable under English and Indian law.

Both doctrines require certain conditions to be met before part performance can be used as a basis for enforcing an oral contract. For example, the party seeking enforcement must have relied on the oral agreement, and there must be evidence of the partial performance of the contract terms.

Both doctrines protect parties who have performed under an oral contract, even if the other party refuses to perform their obligations.

The Indian Contract Act, 1872 includes provisions for specific performance of contracts, which allow a party to seek a court order to enforce a contract, even if it is not in writing. In contrast, the English law does not have a specific provision for specific performance of oral contracts.

The Indian law recognizes part performance as a ground for specific performance, while English law recognizes it as a defense to a claim of non-performance. This means that in India, a party can seek specific performance based on partial performance, while in England, a party can use partial performance as a defense to a claim of breach of contract.

The Indian law demands the part performance to be absolutely and expressly accessible to the contract conditions, but English law does not.

The part-performance concept is an equitable idea used to avoid fraud. Non-registration transferor commits fraud because he does not take advantage of a transferee that has finished a portion of his labour in good faith. The theory is based on the notion that equity considers purpose rather than form. The parties' purpose is to execute out the contract even if the document, i.e., the contract, is unregistered, is referred to as their intention.

The existing concept is a defensive shield utilised by the transferee; it is unable to be used as an attacking weapon. The defence, in this case, does not mean that a transferee may only utilise the safeguards as a respondent; he can also stand as a plaintiff in court.The stated theory will apply if a portion of the contract has been completed and the recipient is willing to finish the contract balance.

Finally, 53A states unequivocally that if the conveyance deed is not registered, it cannot be enforced contrary to the transferor if the purchaser did his obligation so effectively that an official transfer by way of registration remains.

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