California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

319. Interpretation—Reasonable Time

If a contract does not state a specific time in which the parties are to meet the requirements of the contract, then the parties must meet them within a reasonable time. What is a reasonable time depends on the facts of each case, including the subject matter of the contract, the reasons each party entered into the contract, and the intentions of the parties at the time they entered the contract.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Civil Code section 1657 provides: “If no time is specified for the performance of an act required to be performed, a reasonable time is allowed. If the act is in its nature capable of being done instantly—as, for example, if it consists in the payment of money only—it must be performed immediately upon the thing to be done being exactly ascertained.”
  • This rule of construction applies where the contract is silent as to the time of performance. (See Palmquist v. Palmquist (1963) 212 Cal.App.2d 322, 331 [27 Cal.Rptr. 744].)
  • The reasonableness of time for performance is a question of fact that depends on the circumstances of the particular case. (Lyon v. Goss (1942) 19 Cal.2d 659, 673 [123 P.2d 11]; Consolidated World Investments, Inc. v. Lido Preferred Ltd. (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 373, 381 [11 Cal.Rptr.2d 524].) These circumstances include the situation of the parties, the nature of the transaction, and the facts of the particular case. (Sawday v. Vista Irrigation Dist. (1966) 64 Cal.2d 833, 836 [52 Cal.Rptr. 1, 415 P.2d 816].)

Secondary Sources

1 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Contracts, §§ 762–764

13 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 140, Contracts, § 140.41 (Matthew Bender)

27 California Legal Forms, Ch. 75, Formation of Contracts and Standard Contractual Provisions, § 75.15 (Matthew Bender)

1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 13, Attacking or Defending Existence of Contract—Absence of Essential Element, 13.49

2 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 21, Asserting a Particular Construction of Contract, 21.30

2 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Contract Litigation, Ch. 22, Suing or Defending Action for Breach of Contract, 22.46