Void ab initio
A Latin phrase meaning ‘void from the beginning’. In contract law, this phrase is used to describe the situation when a contract has been declared completely void (see void contract ) so that any clauses in it dealing with what will happen if the contract is brought to an end because of a breach of contract will not be effective. A contract used to be held to be void ab initio if the breach which brought it to an end was a fundamental breach (one which destroyed an essential part of the contract), but this is no longer the case.
Case example: Photo Productions Ltd v Securicor Ltd (1980)
A security guard supplied by Securicor to protect Photo Productions’ premises set fire to them. This was held to be a fundamental breach of contract, but the exclusion clause in the contract was still valid.