Contract Law


The legal issue states that Ms. Marple decided to sell her car for no less than £20.000 to the right sort of person, she sold it to Sir Birtie Bingfield who abuse of her innocence and real name was Forsyth.


Forsyth gave her a bound cheque for £24.000 and then sold the car to Greaser, local bookmaker, later disappearing.


In order for Ms. Marple to recover her car, she will need to show that she was trying to contract with Sir Birtie Bingfield, “the right sort of person”, so that there would be no binding contract due to have been contracting with Forsyth the person in front of her and the cheque was bound on another person’s name.


The question of this issue is whether there is or not a contract. It may be argued that the term “the right sort of person”, used by Ms. Marple can be implied as a “reasonable person”, and not a fraudster.


This case can be categorized as an Agreement Mistake.


Agreement mistakes are traditionally divided into three categories relating to contractual formation; first, Mutual Mistake, when parties have a different understanding they do not reach to and agreement; therefore, there is no contract. There are few cases involving mutual mistake, on of them is Raffles v. Whilchause and Busch[1].Secondly, Unilateral Mistakes appear when one party makes a mistake as to term of the contract and the other party knows or, ought to have realised that there is a mistake, Examples can be found in Hartog v. Colin[2] and Smith v. Hughes[3], among others. Finally, Unilateral mistakes as to identity which involves misrepresentation, often fraudulent, about a person’s identity[4]. This is the legal rule concerning Ms. Marple’s case.


The application of the rules of mistake as to identity can be found in Boulton v. Jones[5]. 1st Party usually called, rogue, trickster, or fraudster misrepresenting his or her identity to persuade a 2nd party to contract or take away goods in credit. Often, the rogue will sell the goods to an innocent 3rd party who has possession.[6]


The Key here is the issue of mistake. If there is a mistake as to identity the contract is void and therefore the 3rd. party acquire no title to pass on and the original owner is entitled to have his/her goods back, such as in Cunday v. Lindsay[7], Hardman v. Booth[8] and specially in Ingram v. Little[9] (later discussed).


However, if mistake as to identity does not apply then, 3rd party (who also suffer the harsh consequences of acquiring the gods in good faith without notice and for value) will win out.


To show that this is a contract void by mistake as to identity, Ms Marple, needs to show that she was intended to deal with sir Birtie Bingfield. In Ingram v. Little, a very similar case to the one regarded, the three plaintiffs advertised a car for sale and a rogue, introducing himself as P. G. M. Hutchinson offered to buy it. He intended to intended to give a cheque but the plaintiffs at first instance refused and one of them went to check at the post office and ascertained that there was a P. G. M. Hutchinson, then the plaintiffs accepted the cheque, the cheque was not met. Meanwhile, the rogue sold the car to the defendant who bought it in good faith.


The Court held that since the plaintiffs had made an offer to the real P. G. M. Hutchinson, the rogue could not accept it. [10]


In this case, Ms. Marple had intended to do the same as the plaintiffs in the case last discussed. Nevertheless, there is one fact which is not sated that is whether Ms Marple had checked somewhere for the identity of “Sir Birtie Bingfield”. In case she has not don so, it could probably been presuming that she was trying to contract with the person physically present. In that case, this will be defective for her, having to pass the title to Greaser. Being this the case, the court could apply the following authority:


In Philips v. Brooks Ltd.[11] , a rogue named North went into a Jewellery shop and called himself Sir George Bullogh, and obtained in credit a ring, he then pledge the ring to a firm of