Curtis v Chemical Cleaning & Dyeing Co – 1951

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Curtis v Chemical Cleaning and Dyeing Co [1951] 1 KB 805

Affirms that when a party misrepresents the significance of a term, it ceases to be contractually binding

Facts

The claimant, Curtis, took her wedding dress to be cleaned by a professional laundry service, the defendants, the Chemical Cleaning and Dyeing Company. Upon purchasing their services, the defendants asked the claimant to sign a form, and she asked the service assistant what the consequences of signing would be. The assistant replied that the form merely included an exclusion of liability clause for any damage they may cause to any beading and sequins on garments, however in actuality the exclusion of liability clause pertained to all possible damage that may befall a garment whilst being cleaned. When the claimant returned to pick up her dress, it had been damaged by the defendants and she thus brought a claim for damages against them. In response, the defendants submitted that she had no grounds for a claim due to the exclusion of liability clause.

Issue

Whether the exclusion of liability clause was binding upon the claimant given that the service assistant had misrepresented its consequence.

Held

The Court of Appeal found for the claimant, viewing that whilst a party is typically bound by all the contents of a signed written contract, even where they had not properly read the contract, a clause ought not be deemed legally enforceable where the drafting party misrepresents the effect of a clause to the other party. Thus, the exemption of liability clause was not deemed properly incorporated into the contract and the claimant was awarded damages.

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