The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page.(August 2012)
"Time is of the essence" is a term in British and United States contract law that indicates that the parties to the agreement must perform by the time to which the parties have agreed if a delay will cause material harm. However, in the case of Foundation Development Corp. v. Loehmann's Inc. 788 P.2d 1189 (Ariz. 1990), in which the lease included a Time is of the essence clause, the court ruled a minor delay did not cause material harm and thus no breach of contract occurred.
Compare this to an "express clause", where a specific contract term must be performed to avoid breach, such as in the court decision in Dove v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc. 434 N.E.2d 931 (Ct. App. Ind. 1982).
Contrast this with reasonable time, where a delay in performing may be justified if it is reasonably required, based upon subjective circumstances such as unexpected weather.