Dick Bentley v Harold Smith

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Dick Bentley Productions Ltd v Harold Smith (Motors) Ltd [1965] 1 WLR 623

Established that a representation from an experience party to an inexperienced party is likely to be interpreted as a contractual term rather than a representation.

Facts

The claimant, Dick Bentley, was aware of the defendant, Harold Smith’s, reputation as an expert in prestige cars and requested that the defendant keep an eye out for a well vetted and kept Bentley car, as he wished to purchase one. When the defendant obtained a Bentley, he informed the claimant and recommended it to him, stating that the vehicle had been previously owned by a German man who had replaced some of the car’s original parts and had only driven approximately 20,000 miles on the car since the replacements, meaning the car was in good shape. The claimant subsequently purchased the vehicle, however faults soon developed. As per warranty, the defendant made some repairs, yet with the development of more faults it became apparent that the car had in fact travelled many more miles than originally believed since the replacement of parts. The claimant thus brought an action against the defendant for breach of contract and seeking damages. In response, the defendant asserted he had made an innocent misrepresentation.

Issue

Whether the defendant’s statement as to the quality of the vehicle could be deemed a term of contract given his expertise as a prestige car dealer.

Held

The Court found for the claimant, viewing the statement as a contractual term. They determined that as the defendant had greater expertise, as a car dealer, the claimant was reasonably entitled to rely upon a representation from them regarding the subject of their expertise. 

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