Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269

Case Name:– Robinson vs. Davidson

Citation:– LR 6 Ex 269

Jurisdiction:– Court of Exchequer

Judgment Summary:

  1. Nature of Contract: Contracts for personal services are generally subject to an implied condition.
  2. Implied Condition: An implied condition exists that if the inability to serve arises from illness, it shall not constitute a breach of contract.
  3. Legal Precedent: Established the principle that illness preventing the fulfillment of duties in a contract for personal services is not automatically considered a breach.

Historical Background:-

Legal Framework in the 19th Century:

During the 19th century, contract law was undergoing significant development, transitioning from a more rigid application of contractual obligations to a more nuanced understanding of implied conditions and fairness. The legal system was adapting to accommodate societal changes and recognize unforeseen circumstances affecting contractual performance.

Industrial Revolution and Contractual Relations:

The 19th century marked the peak of the Industrial Revolution, leading to significant changes in societal structures and economic activities. With industrialization, contracts for personal services became increasingly common, and the legal system had to adapt to address the intricacies and challenges arising from these evolving contractual relations.

Social and Medical Realities:

Understanding the historical context requires acknowledging the state of healthcare and medical understanding during that time. Medical care was less advanced, and illnesses often posed serious hindrances to daily life and work. The societal perception of illness and its impact on an individual’s ability to fulfill contractual obligations would have influenced legal deliberations.

Significance of Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269:

The case was pivotal in establishing a precedent regarding contracts for personal services and the impact of illness on such agreements. It reflected a shift in legal interpretation towards acknowledging and accommodating unforeseen events, such as illness, within contractual obligations.

Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269 not only shaped contract law principles but also reflected the evolving societal and economic landscape of the 19th century. The case stands as a historical marker in the development of contract law, recognizing the need for fairness and flexibility in addressing contractual obligations in the face of unforeseen events like illness during a period of significant social and economic change.


In the legal case of Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269, it was decided that when someone has a contract to do a specific job for someone else but gets sick and can’t do the job, it might not mean they’ve broken the contract. This case helped establish that contracts for personal services usually have an unstated rule: if you can’t do the job because you’re sick, it might not be seen as breaking the contract. It’s like a fair understanding that illness can sometimes get in the way of work, and it’s not always a breach of the agreement.


In the legal case of Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269, Robinson and Davidson had a contract. Robinson promised to do something for Davidson within a certain time, but then Robinson got sick and couldn’t do what was agreed upon. There was a schedule or a specific time set for Robinson to finish the work. The big question was whether Robinson not being able to do the job because of being sick was a problem or not according to the contract. The court had to decide if Robinson’s sickness was a good enough reason for not doing the work they promised to do in the contract. This case focused on whether illness could excuse someone from following through on what they agreed to do.


  1. Did Robinson’s illness break the contract?
  2. Was there a specific time Robinson had to finish the job?
  3. Does the contract have a rule for unexpected things like illness?
  4. Is illness a good enough reason to not do what was promised in the contract?
  5. Should Robinson be excused from the contract because of their sickness?


In the case of Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269, the court decided that:

The contract between Robinson and Davidson had an unspoken rule. This rule said that if Robinson couldn’t do the job because of being sick, it might not mean Robinson broke the contract. Even though there was a schedule or a specific time for Robinson to finish the work, the court thought that illness was a good enough reason to not do the job as promised. So, the court said that Robinson wasn’t breaking the contract because of being sick. This case made it clear that sometimes, unexpected things like illness can excuse someone from doing what they agreed to do in a contract for personal services.


In Robinson vs. Davidson LR 6 Ex 269, the court said something important: getting sick might not always mean breaking a promise in a contract. It showed that contracts for personal services understand that sometimes unexpected things, like illness, can get in the way of doing a job. So, if someone can’t work because they’re sick, it might not be considered breaking the agreement. This case helped people understand that contracts can be flexible when things like illness happen, making sure fairness is there for everyone involved.

“Should contracts for personal services always have room for unexpected events like illness, or should strict adherence to agreed-upon terms take precedence in such agreements?”

Balancing the need for honoring contractual commitments with the unpredictability of life events like illness is crucial. While contracts aim for certainty, acknowledging unforeseen circumstances such as illness in personal service contracts ensures fairness and practicality. Allowing reasonable exceptions for such situations maintains the integrity of contracts while considering the human factor, fostering a more equitable approach to contractual obligations.