This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Where the doctrine of breach by renunciation is recognized by the courts, the question of what amounts to renunciation is material. A specific refusal to perforin or to have anything more to do with the contract is a breach by renunciation.1 To operate as a breach by renunciation, however, the party who renounces the contract must do so by a distinct, unequivocal and absolute refusal to perform the contract or to recognize it as binding upon him.2 If A is bound by a contract with B to deliver ice to B at some time during the season, letters written by A arguing against the propriety of B's insisting upon performance at a time when the market price of ice was so much higher than it was when A had received ice from B, in exchange for which this ice was demanded, and requesting a personal interview, do not amount to a renunciation.3 A letter written by an agent of a corporation, who has made a contract on its behalf, referring to it as a quasi agreement by the corporation, quoting the resolution under which he is acting, questioning his authority under such resolution to make the agreement and suggesting that the adversary party await further action of the board of directors of the corporation before proceeding, is not renunciation.4 If a life insurance company makes illegal assessments, but does nothing further to repudiate liability under the contract, this is not breach by renunciation.5 To amount to renunciation the declaration of the party renouncing must refer to the present time, and must show that he does not look upon it as binding him. His statement while performing in good faith that he intends to abandon at some time in the future does not amount to breach by renunciation.6 If one party to the contract claims as contract rights thereunder more than he is given by the contract, such claim does not of itself amount to a renunciation of the contract.7 Thus the principal's claiming that the agent under a contract for buying cotton should furnish the principal with an invoice and further description of the cotton, as well as the samples stipulated for in the contract, is not renunciation.8 Thus if one party claims by virtue of the contract a right to forfeit it under existing conditions, his ineffectual attempt to declare such forfeiture is not a renunciation.9 If he does not refuse performance at the proper time the adversary party cannot treat the contract as avoided. So an attempt to get a favorable modification of a contract is not a renunciation thereof.10 If the renunciation alleged consists of words and conduct of the parties about which there is a dispute of fact, the question of renunciation is for the jury.11
11 South Boulder, etc, Co, v. Mar-fell, 15 Colo. 302; 25 Pae. 504; Morton v. Nelson, 145 111. 586; 32 N. E. 916.
12 South Boulder, etc., Co. v. Mar-fell, 15 Colo. 302; 25 Pae. 504.
13 Nichols v. Steel Co., 137 N. Y. 471; 33 N. E. 561.
1 Wallingford v. Aitkins (Ky.), 72 S. W. 794.
2 Hartnett v. Baker, - Del. -; 56 Atl. 672.
3 Dingley v. Oler, 117 U. S. 490.