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The destruction or annulling of a contract.The right to rescind a contract seems to suppose not that the contract has existed only in appearance; but that it has never had a real existence on account of the defects which accompanied it; or which prevented its actual execution.
A contract cannot, in general, be rescinded by one party unless both parties can be placed in the same situation, and can stand upon the same terms as existed when the contract was made. The most obvious instance of this rule is, where one party by taking possession, etc., has received a partial benefit from the contract.
A contract cannot be rescinded in part. It would be unjust to destroy a contract in toto, when one of the parties has derived a partial benefit, by a performance of the agreement. In such case it seems to have been the practice formerly to allow the vendor to recover the stipulated price, and the vendee to recover, by a cross-action, damages for the breach of the contract. But according to the later and more convenient practice, the vendee, in such case, is allowed in an action for the price, to give evidence of the inferiority of the goods in reduction of damages, and the plaintiff who has broken his contract is not entitled to recover more than the value of the benefit the defendant has actually derived from the goods or labor; and when the latter has derived no benefit, the plaintiff cannot recover at all.A sale of land, by making a deed for the same, and receiving security for the purchase money, may be rescinded before the deed has been recorded, by the purchaser surrendering the property and, the deed to the buyer, and receiving from him the securities he had given; in Pennsylvania, these acts revest the title in the original owner. But this appears contrary to the current of decisions in other states and in England.