Strickland v Turner (1852) 7 Ex 208

Contract – Life Assurance – Premium – Death – Void – Annuity – Mistake – Common Mistake – Subject Matter

Facts

In this case, Strickland, the complainant, entered into a contract for annuity and life assurance on the life of Turner, with an insurance company. However, at the time the contract was made, Turner was already dead. The complainant nor the insurance company were aware of this when the contract was made and this did not have an effect on their agreement at the time of formation. It was later discovered that Turner was dead and remedy was sought.

Issues

The issue in this case concerned whether the complainant could be given a refund on his premium, due to Turner being dead at the time the contract was made. In addition, the court was to decide whether the contract between the parties was void.

Held

It was held by the court that the contract between the complainant and the insurance company was void. There had been a lack of consideration at the time of agreement nor enquiry into the health of Turner. This was classed as a common mistake to the contract and it was held that neither party was at fault. Thus, the complainant was entitled to receive his premium back due to this mistake. It was stated that a mistake to the subject matter of a contract must be fundamental and persuade each of the parties to enter into that agreement. Since turner was dead at the time the parties made the contract, this agreement was void.