Rationalising Anticipatory Breach in Executed Contracts

Yihan GOH, Singapore Management University
Man YIP, Singapore Management University


Rationalising the doctrine of anticipatory breach is notoriously difficult. This may explain the complete lack of attempt by the UK Supreme Court to address its conceptual difficulties in its recent judgment in Bunge SA v Nidera BV [2015] UKSC 43; [2015] 3 All E.R. 1082. It is therefore of interest that the Singapore Court of Appeal in The “STX Mumbai” [2015] SGCA 35; [2015] 5 S.L.R. 1 explained why the doctrine of anticipatory breach can be applied to executed contracts (in the sense of being fully executed by the innocent party). Whilst anticipatory breach applies similarly under English law, the English courts have never considered the underlying justification, save to say in a case with a partially executed contract that “it would be very strange and hardly unworkable” if the innocent party had to wait until the time for performance (Moschi v Lep Air Services Ltd. [1973] A.C. 331, 356, per Lord Simon).