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Hedley Byrne v Heller & Partners

[1964] AC 465

Case summary last updated at 19/01/2020 12:24 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Hedley Byrne v Heller & Partners

Ps had booked advertising space, for which P was liable, on behalf of X. To ensure that X wouldn’t fail to pay them, they asked D, X’s bank, whether X would be able to pay and D said they were certain that X could pay but that this assurance included a disclaimer of responsibility on X’s behalf. It turned out X was unable to pay so P sued D for negligent misrepresentation. HL held that P must fail due to the disclaimer, but would otherwise have been able to sue, since negligent misrepresentation causing economic loss can, in some cases, make D liable. A duty of care would arise in relation to statements where there is (1) a "special relationship" between the advisor and the advisee, such that the advisor could reasonably anticipate that the advisee will rely on his/her advice for a particular purpose; (2) A statement that was false/inaccurate/misleading; and (3) Advisee reasonably relied on statement & suffered detriment as a result. 
Lord Devlin: such relationships are ‘equivalent to contract,’ that is, where there is an assumption of responsibility in circumstances in which, but for the absence of consideration, there would be a contract.

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