Attwood v Small [1838]

Attwood v Small [1838]

Attwood v Small [1838] 6 Cl & F 232 dealt with the issue of misrepresentation and whether it is actionable when its accuracy is independently verified by the representee, even if the verification process did not uncover the misrepresentation.

The facts of the case involved the sale of mines and steelworks by the defendant, Small, to the claimant, Attwood. Before the sale, Small made representations regarding the capabilities of the property, and Attwood agreed to purchase the property subject to verifying those statements. Attwood's agents were responsible for conducting the verification process, and they confirmed that the representations made by Small were true. However, it was later revealed that these representations were, in fact, false.

Attwood sought rescission of the contract based on the misrepresentations. However, the House of Lords denied rescission, and the judgment did not provide clear reasoning. The common interpretation is that rescission was denied because there was no reliance on the misrepresentations by Attwood. Instead, Attwood relied on its agents to verify Small's representations, and since the agents confirmed the accuracy of the statements, it was deemed that Attwood did not directly rely on the misrepresentations made by Small.

The case highlights the principle that if a representee independently verifies the accuracy of the representations, even if the verification process does not uncover the misrepresentation, the misrepresentation may not be actionable. In such cases, the focus is on whether the representee relied on the verification rather than the original misrepresentation. This principle may vary based on the specific circumstances and the nature of the relationship between the parties.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.