Saturday, 20 March 2010
Law of Contract and Mistake
People entering agreements may make all sorts of mistakes. "Mistake" may be a vitiating factor but not every mistake operates in this way. John and James might enter into a contract for a "Constable" painting of Salisbury Catherdral when, in reality, it is not. Such a mistake did not make the contract void in Leaf v International Galleries  2 KB 86. After all, the parties contracted to buy and sell a picture! The case law on mistake is considerable and the Lore to Law blog carries an interesting picture quiz relating to the cases. Have a look !
Here is rather more detail on Leaf v International Galleries. Held: No operative mistake but the painter's identity was held to be a "condition" of the contract. Breach of a condition entitles the claimant to damages (not claimed in Leaf's case) or, in some instances, to rescind (put aside) the contract. To rescind the contract Mr Leaf would have had to have acted in a timely manner but he had displayed the picture on his wall for 5 years before he found it was a fake.