• Revision:Contract Law 1

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Offer and Acceptance

Invitation to Treat

  • Goods Displayed on Shelves
    • Pharmaceutical Society of GB –v- Boots Cash Chemists [1953]
    • Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1933 – chemist to be present at point of sale. Point of sale was cash desk, displaying of product was invitation only.
      • Freedom of contract preserved – shops can refuse sale
  • Goods Displayed in Shop Window
    • Fisher –v- Bell [1961]
      • Offensive Weapons Act 1959 – sale of prohibited weapons. Failed as display was not sale, rather invitation to treat.
  • Advertisements
    • Partridge –v- Crittenden [1968]
      • Protection of Birds Act 1954 – “Bramblefinch cocks and hens 25s each” not an offer.
  • Lack of objectivity
    • Gibson –v- Manchester City Council [1979]
      • G invited to buy house. M invited application on “may be prepared to sell” basis. Not an offer.
  • Mere statement of price
    • Harvey –v- Facey [1893]
      • Sale of Penn. H: “telegram lowest price”. F: “lowest acceptable £900”. Not an offer, merely statement.
  • Lots at Auction
    • Harris –v- Nickerson [1873]
      • Furniture listed in catalogue, H hoped to buy. Items withdrawn. Advertising was invitation to treat, acceptance only at fall of hammer.
    • British Car Auctions –v- Wright [1972]
      • Prosecution for selling unroadworthy car. No offer to sell at auction. Failed.

Not Invitation to Treat

  • Unilateral Offer
    • Carlill –v- Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1893]
      • Promise to pay £100 for unsuccessful usage in advert was an offer that could be accepted by anyone.
  • Statement of Price where offer is intended
    • Biggs –v- Boyd Gibbins [1971]
      • B: “for a quick sale I will accept £26,000”. BG accepts and B affirms. There is an offer.
  • Competitive tendering
    • Spencer –v- Harding [1870]
      • Invitation to submit tenders is not an offer to sell to highest bidder.
    • BUT: Harvela Investments –v- Royal Trust of Canada [1986]
      • Advert stipulated sale to highest bidder. Lowest bidder stated $2,100,000 or £101,000 in excess of any other. H sued successfully. Wording ensured offer could only be accepted by H.
    • Blackpool and Fylde Aero Club –v- Blackpool BC [1990]
      • Council put up airport pleasure flight usage for competitive tender. Stated not bound by any bid. Tender time closed early. RR Helicopters won. Council discovered mistake and re-run but legal threat from RRH. Court acknowledged implied undertaking to operate by the set rules.
  • Auctions without reserve
    • Warlow -v- Harrison [1859]
      • Collateral contract created between the highest bona fide bidder and the auctioneer himself when the auctioneer refuses sale.
    • Barry –v- Davies [2000]
      • Auction without reserve withdrawn, thus auctioneer refused sale to claimant (2 x £200). Then sold privately for £750 each. Existence of collateral contract - £27,600 damages.


  • Must be communicated to the offeree
    • Taylor –v- Laird [1856]
      • T gave up captaincy and worked as member of crew, wages claim failed, owner had no knowledge.
    • Inland Revenue Commissioners –v- Fry [2001]
      • F owed £113,000; F sends £10,000 cheque “in full and final settlement to be accepted when banked”. IRC procedure to bank before correspondence. Court held unilateral offer could be accepted but IRC had no knowledge, hence ignorant and thus no acceptance.
  • Can be made to the whole world
    • Carlill –v- Carbolic Smoke Ball Co [1893]
  • Must be certain
    • Guthing –v- Lynn [1831]
      • £5 more “if horse is lucky” is too vague.
  • Can be withdrawn at any time before acceptance
    • Routledge –v- Grant [1828]
      • G offered house for sale for 6 weeks. Withdrew early, legitimate as no acceptance had occurred.
  • Withdrawal must be communicated
    • Byrne –v- Tienhoven [1880]
      • VT: 1st October offered sale in writing, 8th October withdrew. B: 11th October accepted by telegram, 15th October confirmed in writing. 20th October received VTs withdrawal. Invalid.
  • Communication can be by reliable third party
    • Dickinson –v- Dodds [1876]
      • B notified Di that Do had withdrawn offer to sell houses. B was a mutual acquaintance, therefore notification valid.
  • Unilateral offer cannot be withdrawn during performance of the offeree
    • Errington –v- Errington & Woods [1952]
      • Father mortgages house in own name. Promised son and daughter in law it would be theirs after mortgage paid off. Father’s promise could not be withdrawn so long as mortgage paid off.

Termination of Offer

  • Acceptance, withdrawal, time can lapse, reasonable time can lapse
    • Ramsgate Victoria Hotel –v- Montefiore [1866]
      • M’s offer to buy shares in June elapsed because RV has issued shares in November
  • Death
    • Reynolds –v- Atherton [1921]
      • Offeree dies then the offer lapses and representatives unable to accept
    • Bradbury –v- Morgan [1862]
      • Offeror dies, and offeree is ignorant then acceptance can still occur. Unlikely when offeree is aware of this.


  • Must be communicated
    • Felthouse –v- Bindley [1863]
      • “If I hear no more from you, I shall consider the horse mine at £30:15s”. Sold at auction and not withdrawn, no claim against auctioneer.
  • Can be in any form
    • Yates –v- Pulleyn [1975]
      • Option to purchase land was required to be “sent by recorded delivery”. No acceptance by ordinary post.
  • The postal rule
    • Adams –v- Linsell [1818]
      • Wool offered for sale, acceptance by post requested and sent but not received until long after sale of wool.
    • Household Fire Insurance –v- Grant [1879]
      • G wrote to purchase shares. Never received. G was liable for value of shares when liquidation occurred.
    • Holwell Securities –v- Hughes [1974]
    • Acceptance required “by notice in writing”. Need for notice meant postal rule was not effective.
  • Modern methods
    • Brinkibon –v- Stahag Stahl [1983]
      • Telex received out of office hours, only effective once reopened
    • Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
      • Apply to sale of goods and provision of services
      • R7: bound to supply minimum information: right to 7 day cancellation, description, price, arrangements for delivery and length before elapsing.
    • Electronic Commerce Directive 2000/31
      • No contract until the seller has notified the customer electronically.
  • Must be unconditional
    • Hyde –v- Wrench [1840]
      • W offered sale of farm for £1000. H rejected and offered £950 which W rejected. H tried to accept original, but this had terminated.
  • Enquiries do not count as rejection
    • Stevenson –v- Maclean [1880]
      • M offered to sell iron, S accepted and enquired as to delivery. S sold to third party, not a counter offer, acceptance allowed.


  • Battle of the forms
    • General rule: take the last counter offer as having been accepted
      • Davies –v- William Old [1969]
        • D contracted W who contracted builders. Builders issued a work order to D using standard form “not pay for work until they had been paid”. D sued for unpaid work but failed – standard form was counter offer that D had accepted by carrying on.
      • BSC –v- Cleveland Bridge [1984]
        • CB to build framework of bank. BSC to supply 4 steel nodes. BSC want disclaimer for liability for any loss caused by late delivery. Never agreed upon, BSC delivered 3 but 4th was delayed. CB refused to pay for 3 nodes, claiming breach. No contract existed.


  • Effectively, the quid pro quo – proof that a bargain existed
  • Definition:
    • Thomas –v- Thomas [1842] – “some detriment to the plaintiff or some benefit to the defendant”
    • Currie –v- Mirsa [1875] – “some right, interest profit of benefit accruing from one party or some forbearance, detriment or loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other”
    • Dunlop –v- Selfridge [1915] – “an act of forbearance, or the promise thereof is the price for which the promise of the other is bought and the promise thus given for the value is enforceable”.
    • Executory consideration – promise to carry out acts later, however no obligation to Offeror in unilateral contracts.
  • Rule: need not be adequate but must be sufficient
    • Thomas –v- Thomas [1842]
      • Man died, expressing that his wife be allowed to remain in house. Executors carried this out, charging £1 per year. Dispossession failed – moral obligation not relevant but paying ground rent was good consideration.
    • White –v- Bluett [1853]
      • Son owed money. Claimed agreement that debt would be forgotten if he did not complain about distribution of assets. This was not tangible, nor sufficient.
    • Ward –v- Byham [1956]
      • Father promised money towards upkeep if child “well looked after and happy”. Mother bound to look after, but no legal provision for happiness. Keeping child happy was good consideration.
    • Chappel –v- Nestle [1960]
      • N offered record cheaply + 3 wrappers. Wrappers were good consideration when copyright holders sued as royalties would be less.
  • Rule: past consideration is not good consideration
    • Re McArdle [1951]
      • Daughter in law spent money on house to be inherited by son and 3 other children. Mother made children sign agreement to reimburse. She sued when they didn’t unsuccessfully – consideration was past.
    • Lampleigh –v- Braithwaite [1615]
      • B received a king’s pardon from L at expense to L. B promised £100. L sued successfully – payment was contemplated, and the gratitude promise supported this.
    • Re Casey’s Patent [1892]
      • C offered 1/3 share in return for manager role. Claimed unenforceable for past consideration as offer was in respect of past services. Bowen LJ: Implied promise of payment, therefore enforceable.
  • Rule: consideration must move from the promise
    • Tweddle –v- Atkinson [1861]
      • Fathers agreed to settle a sum of money on a couple. A died before giving it over, T could not sue executors as he had given no consideration himself.
  • Rule: performing an existing duty cannot be the consideration for a new promise
    • Collins –v- Godfrey [1831]
      • Policeman under court order to give evidence, promised payment by defendant. Not enforceable as he was bound by law.
    • Stilk –v- Myrick [1809]
      • Two ship deserters, crew promised cut of wages if they got the ship back safely. Yet this task already in their contracts as crew.
    • Exceptions:
      • Glassbrook –v- Glamorgan CC [1925] – exceeding duty
        • Pit owner promised to pay police for protection during strike. Claimed they were obliged to regardless. Claim failed, police had provided more than usual.
      • Shadwell –v- Shadwell [1860] – bound by law
        • Uncle promised £150 a year to nephew on marriage. Even though claimant legally bound to marry (breach of promise actionable at the time), doing so was good consideration.
      • Hartley –v- Ponsoby [1857]
      • Similar to Stilk –v- Myrick 1809. 19 of 36 remained. This time promise enforceable as the considerable loss made voyage much more dangerous.
      • Third party consideration?
      • Williams –v- Roffey [1990]
        • R sub-contracted W carpenters to build flats for £20,000. W under quoted and had financial difficulties. R would have to pay clients for delay. R promised W £10,300 for on time completion. Failed to pay and W sued successfully. R gained benefit of not having to pay client.
  • Rule: promise to accept part-payment cannot be enforced
    • Pinnel’s Case [1602] – part-payment (no consideration)
      • Payment of a smaller sum on due day can never relieve the debtor of whole debt liability
    • DC Builders –v- Rees [1965]
      • B owed £482. Accepted £300 due to financial pressure. Sued for full balance successfully.
    • Foakes –v- Beer [1884]
      • F owed £2,090 and agreed to pay in instalments, with no interest. B demanded interested, took action and was successful.
    • Exceptions:
      • Accord and satisfaction
        • Earlier payment; accepting something other; accepting part-payment with something else
      • Promissory estoppel
  • Doctrine of Promissory Estoppel
    • Defence to a creditor claim for the remainder of the debt where part payment has been accepted.
    • High Tree’s Case [1949]
      • H leased flats from CLP. War made it impossible to find tenants, H unable to pay rent. CLP agreed to accept half-rent. 1945 war over and CLP sued for 2 years full rent and wanted return to full rent. CLP successful, but obiter, Denning said they would have failed due to estoppel if they claimed for the full period.
    • Combe –v- Combe [1951]
      • Husband gratuitously promised £2 a week. Lack of consideration but promissory estoppel allowed her to win. Denning: “made a promise, to be relied upon and is in fact relied upon, then he who gave the promise cannot afterwards revert to the previous legal relationship”.
      • Requirements: existing contract; claimant has agreed to waive; claimant knew defendant would rely; defendant has in fact acted on reliance.
    • Re Selectmove [1995]
      • Company owed IR, saying they would pay by instalments. IR stated that they would contact company if this was not satisfactory. IR insisted on immediate payment. Company argued Williams –v- Roffey principle: existing obligation was good consideration. Court used Foakes –v- Beer, distinguishing from Roffey by saying that this was debt and not goods or services. IR not bound by previous agreement.

Intention to Create Legal Relations

Social Arrangements

  • Balfour –v- Balfour [1919]
    • Husband promised £30 a week to wife. Following divorce, the wife’s claim for this failed.
  • Meritt –v- Meritt [1970]
    • Husband deserted wife for another. Agreement to pay income if she paid off the mortgage was legally binding.
  • Jones –v- Padavatton [1969]
    • Mother gave allowance for Bar study, and then provided a house. Mother sought repossession and daughter failed to prove contractual nature.
  • Simpkins –v- Pays [1955]
    • Lodger and two others entered a competition in the lodger’s name. Lodger bound to share winnings.
  • Peter –v- Clarke [1960]
    • Couple persuaded to sell house and move in with older couple, with promise of inheritance. Young couple asked to leave and sued successfully – giving up security proved intention.

Commercial and Business Agreements

  • Edwards –v- Skyways [1969]
    • Agreement to make ex-gratia redundancy payment is binding
  • Esso Petroleum –v- Commissioners of Customs and Excise [1976]
    • Free world cup tokens with every 4 gallons of petrol. Customs claimed purchase tax. Esso were trying to boost business, hence intention to be bound.
  • McGowan –v- Radio Buxton [2001]
    • M entered competition for Clio. Given small model. RB claimed no intention, but this was not upheld. No hint in transcript.
  • Jones –v- Vernons’ Pools [1938]
    • Coupons: “binding in honour only”. J claimed winning coupon lost. Clause prevented his claim.
  • Kleinwort Benson –v- MMC [1989]
    • Parent company issued comfort letter, but would not guarantee loan. K claimed using letter but claim failed.
  • Julian –v- Furby [1982]
    • Plumber helped daughter and son-in-law furnish house. Following split, he invoiced for materials and labour. Court agreed with materials but would not acknowledge the invoice for labour.

Third Party Rights

Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999=

  • Act will apply if party identified, party does not have to exist at time of contracting, contemplation of enforceability.
  • Consequences:
    • Wide range of third party rights, purport to confer a benefit, some exceptions now unnecessary, being covered under exclusion clause easier to enforce. However: exceptions apply and provisions can be expressly excluded in contract.

Capacity and Incapacity


  • Family Law Reform Act 1969 – 21 to 18
  • Enforceable contracts
    • Necessaries – according to station in life and suit the requirements at the time
      • Chapple –v- Cooper [1844]
        • C refused to pay cost of funeral for her private benefit, but the court refuted this.
      • Nash –v- Inman [1908]
        • Cambridge undergraduate supplied with £122 worth of waistcoats. These were to his station of life, but not required – unenforceable against Inman
      • Sale of Goods Act 1979: minor on liable to pay for:
        • Those supplied (executory contracts unenforceable)
        • Reasonable price
      • Fawcett –v- Smethurst [1914]
        • Minor hired a car as was necessary, but term for being held absolutely liable for all damage too onerous – unenforceable.
    • Beneficial contracts of service
      • Employment contracts – prima facie valid, must be on the whole detrimental to be unenforceable.
      • Clements –v- LNW Railway Company [1894]
        • Minor joined insurance scheme, agreeing to give up rights under Employers’ Liability Act 1880. Act would be more beneficial yet contract generally to C’s benefit – claim failed.
      • De Francesco –v- barnum [1890]
        • B taught dancing, terms unfair: approval; total disposal; marry; ability to terminate; no obligation to employ – very detrimental, unenforceable.
      • Extension: Doyle –v- White City Stadium [1935]
        • Minor to lose payment for fight if disqualified. This was to his benefit since it encouraged clean fighting and proficiency
        • Chaplin –v- Leslie Frewin [1966] – autobiography
  • Voidable
    • Must be repudiated in sufficient time
      • Edwards –v- Carter [1893]
        • C contracted to transfer inheritance to trustees under a marriage settlement. He tried to repudiate 4.5 years in to majority age and a year after father’s death – too late
    • Money not recoverable unless failure of consideration
      • Steinberg –v- Scala [1923]
        • Minor allotted shares and repudiates after first payment. Could not recover first payment.
      • Cope –v- Overton [1833]
        • C paid £100 deposit to enter partnership which could be recovered upon repudiation in majority as he had received no benefits.
  • Unenforceable
    • Minors’ Contracts Act 1987
      • Contract made by minor will not be binding except for the above.
      • Guarantees can be enforced
      • Effects:
        • Other party still bound
        • Minor may be able to recover money
        • Ratification, express or by conduct, then the minor is bound
    • Infants Relief Act 1984
      • Unenforceable: IOUs, contracts for goods other than necessaries, contracts for repayments past or present
    • Equity – preventing the minor’s “unjust enrichment”
      • Leslie –v- Sheil [1914]
        • Minor misrepresented age to get a loan. If it were goods, then the minor would be obliged to return them. Restitution could not apply unless very money was identifiable.
      • S3 Minors’ Contracts Act 1987
        • No longer necessary to prove fraud against minor, provided there is an unjust enrichment and it is equitable to recover property.

Mentally Ill

  • Suffering at the time of contracting to the extent of incomprehension?
    • Imperial Loan Co. –v- Stone [1982] - other party must be aware
    • Voidable by mental party
  • Contract made in a period of lucidity?
    • Binding.
    • Sale of Goods Act 1979: reasonable price and awareness of other party does not matter
  • Mental Health Act 1983 – jurisdiction of the court to determine which contracts bind.


  • Gore –v- Gibson [1845]
    • Contract voidable on return to sober sate
  • Matthews –v- Baxter [1873]
    • Ratification possible
  • Sale of Goods Act 1979 applies concerning necessaries.


  • Created: Royal Charter; Statute; Company Registration
  • Ultra vires: where a corporation goes beyond its capacity in making transactions. **This defence can be unfair on the other party.

Company Acts have provided against this



  • Terms – attach liability
  • Mere representation – no liability
  • Misrepresentations – attach liability
    • Esso –v- Marden [1976]
  • Mere opinions – no liability
    • Bisset –v- Wilkinson [1927]
  • Expert Opinions
    • Dick Bentley –v- Harold Smith [1965]
  • Trade Puffs – no liability
  • Puffs with specific promise
    • Carlill –v- Carbolic Smokeball Company [1893]

Incorporating Express Terms

  • Importance of representation
    • Birch –v- Paramount Estates [1956]
      • “as good as the show house”
    • Couchman –v- Hill [1947]
      • Heifer unserved, yet having calve despite reassurances
    • Bannerman –v- White [1861]
      • “if they are treated with sulphur then I am not interested in knowing the price of them”
  • Knowledge or skill affecting equality of bargaining strength
    • Oscar Chess Ltd Williams [1957]
      • Car sold as 1948 Morris 10, actually 1939 but not known. Claim for breach of warranty failed.
    • Dick Bentley Productions –v- Harold Smith [1965]
      • DB asked for “well vetted” car. H misrepresented 20,000 miles.
  • Time margin
    • Routledge –v- McKay [1954]
      • Error on registration book of car, stated as 1941 and not 1939. Sale in 1949, enquiry as to age. Wrong age given. Bought a week later and sued for breach of warranty. Not upheld for lapse of time.
  • Reduction to writing
    • Routledge –v- McKay [1954]
      • Written agreement did not mention age. Not a term.
    • L’Estrange –v- Graucob [1934]
      • Clause excluding liability from terms not mentioned upheld. Need to read before signing!!
  • Drawing to attention
    • O’Brien –v- MGN [2001]
      • “normal Mirror rules apply” just sufficient. Rules available online and in back issues.
  • Significance of standard forms
    • Lidl –v- Hertfood Foods [2001]
      • H failed to supply all of order due to external reasons. L incurred extra cost buying elsewhere. Both relied on standard forms. H had force majeure, both did business before so had seen each others’ terms. Contract over telephone, neither forms applied, seller in breach.

“Parol Evidence” Rule

  • Where party tries to show written document does not reflect agreement, parol evidence prevents admission on the basis of uncertainty and presumption omission was for a reason.
  • Exceptions:
    • Custom or trade usage
    • Rectification (written inaccurately represents agreement, equity allows admission)
      • Webster –v- Cecil [1861]
        • Written document for purchase of land at £1250, yet C able to show refusal of £2000 offer, accurate price of £2250 used in amendment.
    • Vitiating factors
    • Written agreement only partial to wider agreement
      • Evans –v- Merzario [1976]
        • E regularly used M as carriers, using Ms standard forms. Machinery liable to rust on deck. Use of on-deck containers concerned E, but reassured that below deck storage would still be used. Incorrectly stored on deck and fell overboard, COA allowed admission of evidence to show oral reassurance. M liable.
    • Dependent on fulfilment of a specified event
      • Pym –v- Campbell [1856]
        • Agreement to buy share of patent. Contract not in effect until examination by third party. C allowed to introduce evidence of this oral agreement.
    • Collateral Contracts
      • City and West Minster Properties –v- Mudd [1958]
        • M rented shop with small sleeping room, landlord’s restricted use of room on renewal, but said he could still sleep. Landlords tried to bring action for forfeiture of the lease but unable to succeed due to collateral contract.

Implied Terms

  • Terms implied by fact
    • Custom or habit
      • Hutton –v- Warren [1836]
        • Termination of agricultural lease, tenant entitled to allowance for seed and labour.
    • Trade or professional custom
      • Walford’s Case [1919]
        • W suing for 3% commission for negotiating charter party. Defendants claimed custom of payment only upon hire. French government had requisitioned ship, yet this custom conflicted with general purpose and was not upheld.
    • Terms to give sense and meaning
      • Schawel –v- Reade [1913]
        • Inspected stallion for stud purposes. “If there were anything the matter, I would tell you”. Horse unfit for stud purposes – implied warranty.
    • Terms to provide business efficacy
      • The Moorcock [1889]
        • Defendants owned jetty. Both aware possibility of low tide, ship grounded, broke up on ridge of rock – implied undertaking as to safety. Defendants liable.
    • Implied from prior contracts on similar terms
      • Hillas –v- Arcos [1832]
        • 1931 agreement included option clause for 100,000 more to H in 1932 – vague as to type, terms and shipment. A refused to deliver in 1932, claiming option clause only basis for negotiations. Implicit that it would be carried out on same terms.
  • Process of implying by fact
    • Shairlaw –v- Southern Foundries [1939]
      • MacKinnon LJ – officious bystander test, prima facie, so obvious that they would say “of course!”
      • Exception: party unaware
        • Spring –v- National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers Society [1956]
          • NAS in Bridlington Agreement over transfers between unions. S joined unknowingly, NAS asked to expel, but S sued and NAS argued implied term, but officious bystander test rejected. S upheld.
      • Exception: Where uncertain that parties would have agreed if included as an express term
        • Shell –v- Lostock Garage [1977]
          • S to supply petrol and oil on agreement L would not buy from elsewhere. S sold cheaply to others, L sold at lost. L claimed implied term of “abnormal discrimination” – COA refused since S would never have agreed
      • Lord Denning: include terms that are reasonable in circumstance
        • Liverpool City Council –v- Irwin [1976]
          • I withheld rent in protest to untidy common areas, LCC sued and I counter-claimed for breach of implied term, upheld by Denning but rejected by HOL.
  • Implied by law
    • By the courts
      • Liverpool County Council –v- Irwin [1976]
        • Failed officious bystander test but accepted general obligation in tenancy agreements to take reasonable care of common areas.
    • The Sale of Goods Act 1979
      • S12 – condition as to title
        • Rowland –v- Divall [1923]
          • R bought car that was stolen. Able to recover when rightful owner took car back.
      • S13 – condition as to description
        • Re Moore & Co [1921]
          • Contract for cartons of 30 tins. Quantity correct but came in tins of 24.
      • S14(2) – conditions as to satisfactory quality
        • Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994
          • Amended “merchantable” to “satisfactory”
          • Fitness for purpose, appearance and finish, freedom from minor defects, safety and durability
      • S14(3) – condition as to fit for purpose
        • Grant –v- Australian Knitting Mills [1925]
          • G contracted skin disease from underpants, court accepted buyer implied purpose on purchase.
      • S15 – condition as to goods sold by sample corresponding with that sample
        • Godley –v- Perry [1960]
          • Boy injured when catapult elastic snapped. Retailer had tested sample and was able to show that bulk did not match the quality of sample.
    • The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
      • S13 – reasonable care and skill
        • Lawson –v- Supasink [1984]
          • S to design, supply and install kitchen. Did not follow plans, L able to recover money.
      • S14 – where time not fixed, reasonable time established
        • Charnock –v- Liverpool Corporation [1968]
          • L took 8 weeks to repair car which should have taken 5. Breach of implied term.
      • S15 – where consideration not determined, party contracting with supplier will pay a reasonable charge.

Relative and significance of terms

  • Conditions
    • Poussard –v- Spiers and Pond [1876]
      • Actress as lead in operetta. Unable to attend early performances, role given to understudy. P sued but she had already breached, her attendance was crucial, hence condition and SP was able to treat as repudiated.
  • Warranties
    • Bettini –v- Gye [1876]
      • Singer contracted for concerts. 6 day rehersal term in contract, attended 3. this was a warranty – producers could not replace singer.
  • Construction of terms
    • Sometimes impossible to follow express terms where inequality of bargaining power, standard forms, modern methods.
      • Schuler –v- Wickman [1974]
        • W distributor of S’s presses. Condition: W to make weekly visits to 6 manufacturers, contract could be terminated if any condition not remedied within 60 days. Contract to last +4 years = 1400 visits. One visit not made, S sought to terminate. Reid LJ saw this as unreasonable – term not a condition.
      • The Mihalis Angelos [1970]
        • Charter party repudiated with ship owners when vessel not read to load. Statutory terms and commercial character meant judges saw predictability and certainty as crucial, hence condition.
          • (Judges refer to statute and market)
    • Inominate terms
      • Hong Kong Fir Case [1962]
        • D chartered a ship for two years. Term that fit for service, yet poor state, not seaworthy and broke down due to incompetence. 18 weeks lost. Repudiated by D and C sued stating term as a warranty. COA agreed, but Diplock LJ noted difficulty in classification to only two categories.
      • The Hansa Nord [1976]
        • Buyers rejected cargo of citrus pulp pellets to be used for cattle feed as they overheated and term “shipment made in good condition” was breached. Rotterdam court ordered sale. Third party bought and sold at lower price to original buyers. Buyers used for same purpose so it could not be a condition, but it was more serious than a warranty.
      • Technical rather than material breach where injustice would ensue
        • Reardon Smith line –v- Hansen Tangen [1976]
          • Charter contract, named ship as “Osaka 354” – reference for shipyard of building. Sub-contracted to another shipyard where reference became “Oshima 004”. Buyers tried to repudiate, but this technicality was not a condition.
      • Importance of time and court decision to judge condition irregardless of consequences
        • Bunge Corporation –v- Tradex [1981]
          • Buyers required to give 15 days notice to load, but only gave 13. 2 days would not have major consequences; hence first instance court would not define as condition. BUT HOL said seller had condition to ship, so buyer should have condition to load. Time crucial.

Exclusion Clauses

Rules of incorporation

  • Signed agreements – prima facie bound
    • L’Estrange –v- Graucob [1934]
      • Purchaser of vending machine bound even though she had not read clause
  • Express knowledge at time of contracting
    • Olley –v- Marlborough Court Hotel [1949]
      • Notice on wall, after the contract had been made
    • Implied knowledge: Spurling –v- Bradshaw [1956]
      • B stored orange juice for many years in S warehouse. Went missing, B claimed negligence and exclusion clause sent on receipts after contracting. Clause valid – had deal on same terms previously.
      • BUT: must be consistent
        • McCutcheon –v- MacBrayne [1964]
          • MB used ferries to ship cars, sometimes signing risk note. Relative (MS) took cars and given note but not asked to sign, ferry sank through MCs negligence, inconsistency invalidated exclusion clause.
  • Sufficiency of Notice
    • Parker –v- SE Railway [1877]
      • Exclusion clause on back of ticket: not liable for luggage exceeding £10. Failed as not sufficient.
    • Chapleton –v- Barry UDC [1940]
      • Exclusion clause on receipt for hire of deckchairs cannot be relied upon, unreasonable to expect C to consider it a contract.
    • Dillon –v- Baltic Shipping Co [1991]
      • Booking for cruise, form pointed to conditions on tickets. BS could not rely on this, insufficient notice.
  • Machines: Thornton –v- Shoe Lane Parking Ltd [1971]
    • Denning LJ: ticket issued by barrier subject to conditions inside (parallel with Olley), no chance of negotiating, insufficient notice.
  • Burdensome: Interfolio Pictures –v- Stiletto Visual [1988]
    • S hired photographic transparencies, with exclusion clause of holding fee for late return. Dillon LJ: insufficient notice of a burdensome clause.


  • Queries and oral misrepresentations
    • Curtis –v- Chemical Cleaning and Dyeing Co [1951]
      • Claimant took wedding dress, querying “any damage howsoever arriving”, orally told it applied to beads and sequins, hence, CCD cannot rely.
        • Also: Merzario [1976]
  • Effect on third parties
    • Scruttons –v- Silicons [1962]
      • Third party and Sc contracted for carriage of chemicals, third party exclusion clause limits damage to $500. Stevedores, Si, do $583 damage and cannot rely on exclusion clause in other contract
      • Possible action where responsibility is with third party
        • Cosgrove –v- Horsefell [1945]
          • Bus company limited liability, yet tort of negligence possible against driver when he caused injury.
    • Successful claims
      • The Eurymedon [1975]
        • Clause in shipping contract exempting agents employed by carrier. Negligence damaging the equipment by stevedores was withint he scope of the exclusion clause due to consideration: carrying out duties against exemption


  • Contra preferentem rule
    • Hostile to ambiguities
      • Andrews Bros –v- Singer & Co [1934]
        • “new singer cars”, excluding from “all conditions, warranties and liabilities implied by statute, common law or otherwise” – express term, not implied
      • Hollier –v- Rambler Motors [1972]
        • Clause: “not liable for damage caused by fire to customers’ cars on the premises” – fire caused by negligence, not specific enough
  • Fundamental Breach
    • Karsales –v- Wallis [1956]
      • Hire purchase agreement for car – “no condition or warranty that the vehicle is roadworthy is given by the owner or implied herein” – car not roadworthy, fundamental breach.
    • Suisse Atlantique Case [1967]
      • Charter party breached loading contract, only making 8 voyages rather than 14. S claimed due to payment based on voyages. CP argued limitation clause, ship owners argued fundamental breach. In fact, liquidated damages clause.
    • Photo Productions –v- Securicor [1980]
      • Securicor to provide night patrol: “no circumstances shall Securicor be responsible…unless could have been foreseen”. Employee started fire, COA held fundamental breach, yet HOL reversed this.
  • Impact of Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
    • George Mitchell –v- Finney Lock Seeds [1983]
      • F agreed to supply G with seeds, with clause limiting effects of breach to cost of the seed only or replacement. Farmers planned to sow £61000 worth, hence clause unreasonable.
    • Trade Customs: Overland Shoes –v- Schenkers [1998]
      • O tried to “set off” invoice against sums S owed for VAT. British International Freight Association standard form with no “set-off” clause, hence clause reasonable.

Statutory and EC control

  • Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
    • Exclusions and limitations
      • Cannot be excluded for death or PI caused by negligence; reference to guarantee; no exclusion from implied conditions of SGA 1979; similarly Consumer Credit Act 1974; similarly for care/skill, reasonable time, reasonable cost in SGSA 1982;
    • Distinctions between consumer contracts and inter-business
      • “consumer”: does not make contract inc ourse of business, other party does, goods passed are of a type ordinarily supplied
    • Exclusions subject to reasonableness test
      • Other than death or PI; consumer dealing on standard forms; ss13, 14, 15 and 16 SGA 1979 in inter-business (and private sellers), misrepresentations; indemnification clauses
      • Thompson –v- Lohan [1987]
        • Plant Hire Company hired JCB and driver. Driver to be competent, yet T liable, L to indemnify T, upon death of claimant, to be subject to reasonableness test
    • Test for reasonableness
      • S11 – “reasonable in all circumstances”
        • Warren –v- Truprint [1986]
          • T only liable for replacement film, not reasonable in Silver Wedding photos
      • S11 – reasonable at the time
        • Smith –v- Eric Bush [1990]
          • Negligent valuation causing loss, exclusion clause of accuracy not reasonable
      • S11 – inter-business dealings with implied term exclusions
        • Consider: bargaining strength, inducement or advantage, adaption to buyers specifications, customary practice
          • Watford Electronics –v- Sanderson [2001]
            • S provided software for W that did not work, incurring losses of £5.5 million. Exclusion clause limiting indirect or consequential loses. Equal bargaining strength, negotiation – clause reasonable
      • S11 – limitation clauses
        • Capability to meet liability: George Mitchell –v- Finney Lock Seeds [1983]
          • Clause unreasonable has suppliers had settled out of court before and could have insured themselves.
    • Contracts outside the scope of UCTA 1977
      • Insurance; land; patents; creation and dissolution of companies; salvage
  • Unfair Terms in Consumer contract Regulations 1999
    • Consumer “any natural person acting for purposes which are outside his trade or business”
    • Only applies where negotiation has not occurred
    • Unfair: “any term which contrary to good faith causes a significance imbalance”
    • Examples:
      • Partial performance; sole seller discretion; excessive compensation sums; one-sided dissolution; irrevocably bind, alteration, limit obligations of agents, transfer obligations, hinder the right to legal action
    • Regulation 6: plain and intelligible language
    • Limitations:
      • Only consumer, does not apply to negotiated term – preserves freedom but presumes equality in bargaining strength


Originally written by JH08 on TSR Forums.

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