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.
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