Ecay v Godfrey – 1947

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Ecay v Godfrey (1947) 80 Lloyd’s Rep 286

Evidenced the necessity of considering all relevant remarks in assessing whether a representation may be deemed a contractual term.

Facts

The claimant, Ecay, contracted to purchase a sail boat for £750 from the defendant, Godfrey, who had considerably more expertise in boats. The defendant asserted that the boat was in reasonable condition, however he did nonetheless suggest that the purchasing claimant may wish to survey the boat for a better overview. The transaction was completed and it subsequently transpired that the boat was heavily flawed. The claimant thus sought to bring an action against the defendant for sale of a flawed vessel.

Issue

Whether the defendant’s remarks regarding the sound nature of the boat ought be considered definitive and thus an enforceable contractual term or whether his suggestion of a survey served to render his assessment merely a representation.

Held

The Court held that the defendant’s remarks in regards to the boat’s ‘soundness’ were mere representations rather than a binding part of the agreement as the statement had not proved sufficiently absolute or indicative of intent for it to qualify as a contractual term. This was further emphasized by the defendant’s advice to the claimant that he ought have the sail boat properly surveyed prior to purchase, which would generally indicate to the reasonable objective person that his assessment of the ship’s quality was not expert or definite, even where the person making the representation had a comparatively larger knowledge of ships than the other party.

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