Contingent Contract

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What is a Contingent Contract?

A contract can be entered into by parties for the performance or non-performance of an action or an event. There are primarily two types of contracts: Absolute Contracts and Contingent Contracts. Let us explain contingent contract in detail.

Contingent Contract Meaning

In a contingent contract, the performance of the promisor is dependent on the fulfillment of certain conditions. These contracts create an obligation on the promisor only if the conditions collateral to the contract are met.

Let Us Define Contingent Contract as Per Section 31 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872

According to the Indian Contract Act, “If two or more parties enter into a contract to do or not do something if an event which is collateral to the contract does or does not happen, then it is a contingent contract.”

Insurance contracts, indemnity contracts, and guarantee contracts are some examples of contingent contracts. 

Contingent Contract Example: A promises to pay B a sum of 20 thousand rupees if there is damage to his house from fire. The payment of the amount is contingent on the house being destroyed by fire. If there is no fire, B cannot claim the amount from A who is not liable to pay since the fire that was the collateral condition, did not happen. 

What Constitutes Contingent Contracts?

There are certain essential elements of a contingent contract as stated under section 31 of the Contract Act.

  • Depends on the Occurrence or Non-Occurrence of an Event 

A contingent contract will be deemed valid only if an event occurs or does not occur and it is collateral to the contract.

  • Contract Performance Must be Conditional

The meaning of a contingent contract is that the conditions collateral to the contract must be certain to happen in the future. The presence of a condition is essential for a contract to be contingent. Section 32 and Section 33 of the Contract Act state that the enforcement of a contingent contract is subject to the collateral conditions being fulfilled. 

Example: X agrees to employ Z as an employee if he clears the exams with 85 percent marks or more. X is liable to give the job to Z only when he meets the condition specified of clearing the exams with the required percentage.

  • The Condition of the Contract must be a Future Event

A contract will be considered a contingent contract only if the event specified is a future event that may or may not happen. 

  • The Condition Specified must be Collateral to the Contract

A contingent contract is based on the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event. This event must be collateral to the contract and not a part of the consideration mentioned in the contract. The contingency must be an independent event. 

Example: X enters into a contract with Y to pay him 10000 rupees on the delivery of some books. This is not a contingent contract since X has an obligation to pay for an event that is part of the contract and not collateral to it.

Example: X enters into a contract with Y to pay him 10000 rupees if the books are delivered to him by Friday. In this case, delivery by Friday is collateral to the contract and not a part of the consideration. Hence this is a contingent contract.

  • The Event must not Depend on the Mere will of the Promisor

The event must not be influenced only by the will or wish of the promisor. 

Example: X promises to pay a certain sum to Y if Y leaves for Delhi on 1st June. Going to Delhi is Y’s will but is not an event completely dependent on his will.

Solved Question on a Contingent Contract

Q1. In What Ways a Contingent Contract is different from a Wagering Contract?

Ans: A contingent contract is different from a wagering contract in the following ways.

  • A wagering agreement is a void agreement but a contingent contract is a valid contract.

  • In the wagering contract, the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event or action forms the premise of the contract but in a contingent contract, the contingency or the condition is merely collateral.

  • The parties of a wagering contract do not have any interest in the event/ condition specified in the contract other than it resulting in the winning or losing of an amount. In a contingent contract, the parties have an active interest in the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event. 

  • All wagering contracts are contingent contracts but not all contingent contracts include a wager. 

Q2. What are the Conditions for the Enforcement of a Contingent Contract?

Ans: There are certain essential conditions for the performance of a contingent contract. These are also different types of contingent contracts.

  • The contract is contingent on the happening of an event- The contract is not enforceable if the event does not happen.

  • The contract is contingent on the non-happening of an event- In case of a contingent contract based on the non-occurrence of an uncertain future event, the promisor is liable for his performance if the event does not happen. In case the specified event takes place, the contract becomes void. 

  • The contract is contingent on the conduct of a person whose action make the fulfilling of the condition impossible. 

Example: A promises to pay ten thousand rupees to B if he marries C. In case C marries D, then the event of B marrying C is rendered impossible. A divorce between C and D or the death of D is possible later and only, in such a  case, the contract will become valid.  Otherwise, the contract becomes void.

  • The contract is contingent on the happening of the event within a fixed time.

  • The contract is contingent on the non-happening of the event within a fixed time.