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De Molestina v Ponton [2002] 1 All ER (Comm) 587

Contract – Misrepresentation – Fraud – Property – Ownership – Shares – Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Facts

This case concerned ownership of property and the estate of a deceased wealthy businessman. This was a dispute between members of the family, where the complainants believed that representations made by one of the defendants was misleading and made to deceive, so that he could have ownership for himself.

Issues

The complainants in this dispute argued for partial rescission of the agreement they had made with the defendant regarding the estate, as they believed that statements were made fraudulently. On the other hand, the defendants argued that the agreement the complainants wished to rescind could not be separated and were pieces of larger and complete transaction. In addition, the defendants argued that partial rescission of a contract was not a principle that was allowed under English law and could not be used as a remedy. Thus, the issue in this case was whether it was possible to rescind part of a contract under English law and if it could be a remedy if the complainants could prove their case regarding misrepresentation.

Held

It was held in this case that it was not possible under English law to rescind part of an agreement or contract. The court states that looking at previous case law and its development, a contract could not be partially agreed to and the other side disregarded. Only a whole and complete contract can be rescinded, not just certain elements, even if misrepresented.


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