Times and dates in Australian contracts are very important. Missing a deadline can have serious implications. The standard REIQ contract, and most other types of contracts entered into in Australia for that matter, will contain a phrase to the effect of: “Time is of the essence”.
Those words carry greater significance than most people know. The legal effect of those words is that if, for any reason, something ought to be done by a specific date and/or time, and that thing is not done before that date/time, then the party who fails to do the thing is in breach of the contract.
We see this in conveyances most typically where settlement must occur on a certain date. As a common, practical example: if one party is late to settlement and arrives after this time then the other party may be entitled to terminate the contract.
This doesn’t just apply to the date and time for settlement but includes all dates and times in the contract such as; finance conditions, building and pest, sunset clauses, and so on.
In order to avoid breaching the contract parties will often seek an extension. An extension is a variation of the contract and therefore as a rule of law it must be in writing and signed by the parties (or their solicitors).
Neither party is entitled to an extension. Requests for extensions can, and often are, refused.
It is common for the party from whom an extension is sought to place conditions on their agreement to extend, for example, that the other party pay their additional legal costs, pay default interest, or forfeit certain rights under the contract.
Ref: www.bcglaw.com.au