Formation – is there a contract?

Court of Appeal artfully navigates questions on agency and privity

Alexandra Pedder

In Fairlight v Sotheby’s, the Court of Appeal considered whether a line of authorities relating to sub-agency could be applied to preclude privity of contract between the parties, and to excuse Fairlight from returning proceeds received from the sale of a painting which had been rescinded on authenticity grounds. The facts were as follows: Fairlight Read More

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The force of “subject to contract”

Natalie Kaminski

The Court of Appeal has held that a judge had “seriously undervalued” the force of using “subject to contract” wording in written correspondence between solicitors. Joanne Properties v Moneything Capital echoes what the courts have held for over a hundred years; the effect statement is that the matter remains in negotiation until a formal contract Read More

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A GBP 1m lesson in checking that your telephone offer has been accepted

Loraine MacDonald

In Moorgate Capital v Sun European, the High Court found that no contract arose from a telephone conversation between two directors because there was insufficient evidence of a consensus being reached or an intention to create legal relations. As a result, Moorgate lost out on a GBP 1m payment. A director from Moorgate (Mr Mockett) Read More

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Performance key to performance fee

Emma Warren

In Donovan v Grainmarket, the High Court held that a joint venture party, to an agreement contained in heads of terms, was entitled to his performance fee, even though he had arguably abandoned the venture. In 2012, the parties entered a joint venture to acquire commercial properties and redevelop them for residential use. The parties Read More

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“Please go ahead with the below…” a binding contract?

Jason Rix

In Athena v Superdrug, the court held that a two-email exchange—culminating with “Please go ahead with the below…”—amounted to a binding contract. In the exchange, Athena asked Superdrug to confirm that a stated minimum number of orders was being placed. Superdrug responded saying “Please go ahead with the below…” Superdrug, argued there was no contract Read More

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Effectiveness of no waiver provision upheld

Sykes Mitchell

In Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation v Euler Hermes, an assignment was not effective where a requirement for a confirmation had not been waived in compliance with a “no waiver” provision; but a power of attorney saved the day. As part of a public private partnership scheme for the construction of a waste treatment facility in Read More

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Estate agent’s commission: Supreme Court on binding agreements and implied terms

Jason Rix

This morning the Supreme Court found, overturning the Court of Appeal, that a short telephone call was enough to create a binding agreement between an estate agent and his client, even though the trigger event for the commission had not been specified (Wells v Devani). There were very different accounts of the crucial phone call. Read More

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Take care: is your “agreement” only an agreement to agree?

Bethany Gregory

In Morris v Swanton Care, the Court of Appeal held that an earn-out provision in a share purchase agreement contained an unenforceable agreement to agree. When Morris sold shares in a residential care business to Swanton, the parties included an earn-out mechanism in the share purchase agreement to enable him to receive deferred consideration. This Read More

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Be careful when you race to perform an agreement

Kerry Chan

In CRS v McLaren, the High Court, quoting RTS, reiterated that the court should not impose binding contracts on parties which they have not reached. CRS and McLaren entered into a heads of agreement, which envisaged that a more detailed, formal contract would be agreed. This never happened, but the project, for a GT4 racing car based Read More

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A question of construction: liability caps and building contracts

Jason Rix

In Arcadis v AMEC, the Court of Appeal held that a liability cap had been incorporated into a letter of instruction. AMEC, a specialist concrete contractor, employed Arcadis, an engineering outfit, to help design two construction projects: the Wellcome Building and Castlepoint car park. A detailed Protocol Agreement was exchanged but never finalised. Work was Read More

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