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Raffles v Wichelhaus

[1864] 2 H&C 906

Case summary last updated at 02/01/2020 16:25 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Raffles v Wichelhaus

There was confusion since a contract stipulated that goods should be carried in the ship Peerless and there were two ships by that name, one of which would arrive later. D asserted that he had intended the ship that arrived earlier and therefore had not paid, and P sued him for breach of contract. CA, without giving its reasons, denied P’s claim and upheld D’s right not to pay.

CW: Traditional explanation is that there was no consensus ad idem to the thing. This is wrong because contract law doesn’t require a subjective meeting of the minds. On an objective understanding of consensus ad idem, it seems that however a reasonable person might try to interpret it, the statement suffered latent ambiguity: “objectivity simply ran out”. 

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