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.
If the express terms of the contract do not fix the time for its duration, if the subject-matter and the surrounding circumstances do not indicate an intention to enter into a permanent obligation or one of indefinite duration, and if the contract is one which from its nature might be terminated at any time, or might be performed indefinitely, it is generally held that either party to the contract may terminate it at his option.1
20 Lord v. Board of Trade, 163 111. 45, 45 N. E. 205.
21 Fritz v. Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Co., 85 N. J. L. 171, 50 L. R. A. (N.S.) 35, 88 Atl. 1065.
22 Fred W. Wolf Co. v. Monarch Refrigerating Co., 252 Ill. 401, 50 L. R. A (N.S.) 808, 96 N. E. 1063.
23 Brooks v. Trustee Co., 76 Wash. 589, 50 L. R. A. (N.S.) 504, 136 Pac. 1152.
24 Capital Fertilizer Co. v. Ashcraft-Wilkinson Co., - Ala.- , 79 So. 484; Brooks v. Trustee Co., 76 Wash. 58!), 50 L. R. A. (N.S.) 594, 136 Pac. 1152.
1 United States. Willcox & G. Sewing Mach. Co. v. Ewing, 141 U. S. 627, 35 L. ed. 882; Chattanooga, etc. Ry. v. Ry., 44 Fed. 456; Mercantile Trust Co. v. Columbus, S. & H. R. Co., 90 Fed.
148; Western, etc., Co. v. Steel Co., 116 Fed. 176; Warden v. Hinds, 163 Fed. 201, 25 L. R. A. (N.S.) 529.
Alabama. Lambie v. Sloss Iron & Steel Co., 118 Ala. 427, 24 So 108.
Illinois. Bates Mach. Co. v. Bates, 192 Ill. 138, 61 N. E. 518.
Louisiana. Long v. Kee, 42 La. Ann. 899, 8 So. 610.
Massachusetts. Marble v. Standard Oil Co., 169 Mass. 553, 48 N. E. 783.
Michigan. Savage v. Surgical Association, 59 Mich. 400. 26 N. W. 652.
Oregon. Christensen v. Pacific Coast Borax Co., 26 Or. 302, 38 Pac. 127.
Pennsylvania. Philadelphia & R. R. Co. v. River Front R. Co., 168 Pa. St. 357, 31 Atl. 1098; Kenderdine Hydro-Carbon Fuel Co. v. Plumb, 182 Pa. St. 463, 38 Atl. 480.
Accordingly, contracts for the rendition of personal services,2 such as a contract of employment as land agent,3 or a contract to repair and construct buildings as directed by the adversary party, no particular buildings being designated,4 may be discharged at any time at the option of either party as to the part of such contract which remains executory. A agreed with B to manage B's plantation and stock farm, and as compensation A was to have the products of the farm and one half of the increase of the stock. No time for the termination of such contract was fixed. A was allowed to terminate the contract at any time, upon giving due notice and taking possession at the beginning of some designated year.5 On the same principle, a contract to furnish commodities,6 such as a contract by retail dealers to buy oil of a wholesale dealer exclusively, without limitation as to time,7 or a contract to manufacture articles for a corporation for an indefinite time in the future,1 may each be discharged at any time at the option of either party as to the part thereof which remains executory.