Raffles v Wichelhaus

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This case is concerned with Mistaking negative consent in certainty and agreement mistakes chapter of contract law

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Facts of Raffles V Wichelhaus, Facts, Issue, Legal precedent

The defendants agreed to buy from the claimants a cargo of cotton to arrive “Ex peerless from Bombay”. There were two ships named “peeeless” and both of them sailed from Bombay, and it was unknown to both the parties.

The defendants meant the peerless which sailed in October and the claimants meant the peerless which sailed in December . When the cotton arrived , the defendants refused to accept the delivery because  they argued that the claimants were obliged to deliver the cotton on the peerless which sailed in October, not the peerless which sailed in December

The claimants sued the defendants for the price of the cotton


The issue before the court was whether or not the fact that the parties appeared to be at cross-purposes was capable of giving the defendants a defence to the claim brought against them.


In Raffles v Wichelhaus the court held that it did provide a defence to the defendants and the decision was in favour of the defendants. In doing so the courts did not give any reason.

This makes it very difficult to extract any ratio from this case . However, the case has generally been understood by contract lawyers to stand for the proposition

Legal Precedent in Raffles v Wichelhaus

As there was no legal precedent held in this case as the judges didn’t gave an explanation of their doing but one can assume that. The claimant should have known for his mistake as the defendant had explianed him everything already.

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