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Contract Law

Contract Law (7th edn)

Mindy Chen-Wishart
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date: 16 June 2024

p. 2576. Mistakelocked

p. 2576. Mistakelocked

  • Mindy Chen-WishartMindy Chen-WishartDean and Professor in the Law of Contract, Oxford University Law Faculty, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and Professor of Law (fractional), National University of Singapore


A party who enters a contract because of a mistaken assumption as to background fact can realistically complain that she should not have to take the normal responsibility for her apparent consent. On the other hand, the objective test of intentions renders mistakes irrelevant to the validity of contracts. The chapter explores how contract law balances these competing norms. It discusses: (1) when a claimant can escape a contract due to her unilateral mistake as to: the contractual terms, the nature of the document, or the other party’s identity; (2) when a contract be rectified to correct a mistake in recording it; (3) when a claimant can escape a contract on the ground of her mistaken assumption about the relevant (non-term) facts; (4) the justification for relieving mistake; (5) whether the current law is satisfactory, and if not, how might it be developed.

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