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Backing Out of A Commitment When Not Given Opportunity To Proceed

Question:

I received deposit and signed contract to build and sell house to Joe. I could not build because neighbor of project pulled me in to litigation both secular and din torah. This has been going on for about 7 years now with no end in sight. I would like to return deposit to Joe and see what happens next with property, whereas Joe does not want to accept his deposit back, saying he can wait and wants me to deliver the project for the price quoted at the beginning. The facts are that property worth is up and so are construction costs. Does he have any right to hold me liable for old price or do I have right to renegotiate or force him to take back deposit? would appreciate to hear das torah

Answer:

Of course, I cannot give a psak without hearing both sides of the dispute.

However, in general if a person commits himself to do a project and is not provided by the employer with the wherewithall to perform his employment (even if this is through no fault of the employer) he may retract from his commitment. Certainly after 7 years with no end in sight, he can reasonably say that it is clear to all that his commitment was not intended to be open-ended to such an extent.

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