Notes - Daniels v. Newton



1. The principal case was an action by a vendor of land against a repudiating vendee. Would the same considerations apply to an action by a vendee against a repudiating vendor? To the Massachusetts court the answer was yes. Daniels v. Newton is followed in the Massachusetts reports by Nason v. Holt, 114 Mass. 541 (1874). A contract for the sale of land was entered into on September 14, 1871, conveyance to be made within 14 days. On September 15 the vendor repudiated the agreement and on September 16 the vendee brought an action for breach of the contract. The vendor conveyed the land to one Smith by a deed dated September 16 which was acknowledged, delivered and recorded on September 23. Held, that the action did not lie. Wells, J., commented:


The defendant was under no obligation to make the conveyance at that time [i.e., September 15], and was not called upon to do so. They [i.e., the "declarations" of repudiation made by the vendor] indicate a denial of his obligation, and a purpose to refuse compliance with the terms of the written agreement signed by his agents. But that would not prevent his subsequent conclusion to carry the agreement into effect. It is not, of itself, a present breach of the agreement. Daniels v. Newton, supra.


114 Mass. at 542.


Under the reasoning of the opinion in Daniels v. Newton, could the vendee in Nason v. Holt have properly brought his action on September 23 (when the deed to Smith was delivered) or would he have had to wait the full 14 days until September 28?


2. Hochster v. De La Tour, discussed in the opinion in Daniels v. Newton, became, on both sides of the Atlantic, the leading case in favor of the doctrine of anticipatory breach. For more on Hochster v. De La Tour see the opinion of Fuller, C.J., in the following principal case.