Baker J. in a High Court judgement delivered on 5 April 2016 in the case of Domhnall Mac a Bhaird v. The Commissioners of Public Works In Ireland, found that (as is usual in land contracts) where time is not originally of the essence in a land sale Contract, continuation of negotiations towards agreeing a new completion date following expiration of the time fixed by a completion notice does not mean that time remains “of the essence” for that extended period. Thus time must be freshly made of the essence!

This may have a twofold effect in Conveyancing Practice.

  • The party which has served a completion notice (a 28 day notice served under general condition 40 of the standard Law Society Contract making time of the essence for completion purposes) may refuse to consent to an extension of time unless same specifically reserves the “time of the essence” by way of specific agreement from the other party.
  • Redrafting of special conditions in the Contract for Sale therein. The server of a completion notice may reserve the right to extend the time period with time deemed to still be “of the essence” in respect of any such extension of time.