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Anson's Law of Contract

Anson's Law of Contract (31st edn)

Jack Beatson FBA, Andrew Burrows FBA, QC (Hon), and John Cartwright
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date: 21 July 2024

p. 2658. Mistakelocked

p. 2658. Mistakelocked

  • Jack Beatson, Jack Beatsonis a former Lord Justice of Appeal and Rouse Ball Professor of English Law, University of Cambridge; and is a Visiting Professor, University of Oxford
  • Andrew BurrowsAndrew Burrowsis Professor of the Law of England and Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford and (as of June 2, 2020) he has been appointed a Justice of the UK Supreme Court.
  •  and John CartwrightJohn CartwrightEmeritus Professor of the Law of Contract, University of Oxford


Mistake is one of the most difficult topics in the English law of contract. The principles have never been precisely settled, the decided cases are open to a number of varying interpretations. The position is complicated by the fact that there have been distinct changes in the attitude of the judges to the question of mistake during the last 150 years. This chapter examines the circumstances in which a contract will be held to be defective if one or both of the parties enter into it under some misapprehension or misunderstanding but would not have done so had they known the true position. The discussions cover categorizing mistakes, mistakes about contract terms, mistakes about the identity of the person to whom the contract is addressed, and mistakes of fact or law about the subject matter of the contract or the surrounding circumstances.

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