Friday, April 24, 2009
On this date in 1957, the Suez Canal reopens for business after its extended closure during the Suez Crisis. Egyptian President Gamal Nasser had responded to an Anglo-French seizure of the canal by sinking all 40 ships in it. The canal couldn't be reopened until they were cleared, and much shipping was delayed or routed around the Cape of Good Hope.
The case, of course, let to some of the most famous "impracticability" and "frustration of purpose" decisions in modern contract law, including Lord Denning's influential opinion in Ocean Tramp Tankers Corporation v V/O Sovfracht (The Eugenia),  2 Q.B. 226 (CA), in which the Court of Appeal held that the closure of the canal as a result of military action was not an event that excused performance under the shipping contract.