A mistake is an incorrect understanding by one or more parties to a contract and may be used as grounds to invalidate
the agreement. Common law has identified three different types of mistake in contract: unilateral mistake, mutual mistake,
and common mistake.
-A unilateral mistake is where only one party to a contract is mistaken as to the terms or subject-matter. The courts
will uphold such a contract unless it was determined that the non-mistaken party was aware of the mistake and tried to take
advantage of the mistake. It is also possible for a contract to be void if there was a mistake in the identity of the contracting
party. An example is in Lewis v. Avery where Lord Denning MR held that the contract can only be avoided if the plaintiff can
show that, at the time of agreement, the plaintiff believed the other party's identity was of vital importance. A mere mistaken
belief as to the credibility of the other party is not sufficient.
-A mutual mistake is when both parties of a contract are mistaken as to the terms. Each believes they are contracting
to something different. The court usually tries to uphold such a mistake if a reasonable interpretation of the terms can be
found. Although a contract based on a mutual mistake in judgement does not cause the contract to be voidable by the party
that is adversely affected. See Raffles v. Wichelhaus.
-A common mistake is where both parties hold the same mistaken belief of the facts. This is demonstrated in the case of
Bell v. Lever Brothers Ltd., which established that common mistake can only void a contract if the mistake of the subject-matter
was sufficiently fundamental to render its identity different from what was contracted, making the performance of the contract
Misrepresentation means a false statement of fact made by one party to another party and has the effect of inducing that
party into the contract. For example, under certain circumstances, false statements or promises made by a seller of goods
regarding the quality or nature of the product that the seller has may constitute misrepresentation. A finding of misrepresentation
allows for a remedy of rescission and sometimes damages depending on the type of misrepresentation.
According to Gordon v. Selico it is possible to make a misrepresentation either by words or by conduct, although not everything
said or done is capable of constituting a misrepresentation. Generally, statements of opinion or intention are not statements
of fact in the context of misrepresentation. If one party claims specialist knowledge on the topic discussed, then it is more
likely for the courts to hold a statement of opinion by that party as a statement of fact.