Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
Schawel v Reade  2 IR 81
Emphasised the significance of a party’s expertise in determining whether their statements constitute representation or a contractual promise.
The claimant, Schawel, contracted with the defendant regarding the purchase of a stallion. The claimant inspected the horse prior to purchase as he wished to use the horse for as a stud for breeding. During the course of his examination, the defendant, Reade, assured the claimant that the horse was of a ‘perfectly sound’ state, further assuring that should any issues result with the horse, the defendant would personally ensure he had informed the claimant so as to save the need for a personal visit from the local veterinarian. It transpired that the horse suffered from a significant hereditary defect which affected its visual capacity, and rendered it unfit for purpose. Subsequently, the claimant brought an action against the defendant seeking damages to the extent of the horse’s value.
Whether the assurance as to the health of the stallion could be considered an effective term of the contract.
The Court held that the statement could be deemed a contractual term as the defendant had explicitly promised the claimant that his word could be relied upon and as the claimant had clarified the intended purpose for the horse, making a claim of reasonable lack of knowledge decidedly less feasible. Whilst the defendant had not made an express warranty that the horse was fit to be a stud, he had been aware of the reason for the claimant’s interest in the stallion and assured him that it was fit for purpose. Significantly, this case emphasized the Court’s willingness to look at all of the relevant circumstances in evaluating an unusual or unfamiliar case.
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