Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
Bisset v Wilkinson  AC 177
Whether a statement is one of fact or opinion for the purposes of rescinding a contract
The defendant in this matter was the purchaser of land in New Zealand which was purchased by the claimant for the purpose of sheep farming. The appeal, to which this judgment relates, is on the defendant’s counterclaim. During the purchase process, the claimant informed the defendant that the land being purchased was capable of sustaining 2000 sheep. However, after the purchase the defendant discovered that this was only possible if very careful land management was carried out, and that the land as it stood could not sustain this number of sheep. The defendant therefore sought to rescind the contract on the basis that the claimant’s statement was a misrepresentation.
The issue in this circumstance was whether the statement made by the claimant could be considered a statement of fact in terms of being a representation, or whether it was simply an opinion held by the claimant.
It was held that the claimant’s statement was nothing more than an opinion as to the capacity of the land, based on the claimant’s knowledge of farming, together with the defendant’s knowledge of the current stock. The statement was not therefore held to be a representation. In any event, the defendant had not been able to demonstrate that the land was not capable of carrying the 2000 sheep that the claimant had stated, and therefore the claimant’s appeal was allowed and the contract could not be rescinded.
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