Howard Marine and Dredging Co Ltd v A Ogden & Sons (Excavations) Ltd [1978]

Howard Marine and Dredging Co Ltd v A Ogden & Sons (Excavations) Ltd [1978]

Howard Marine and Dredging Co Ltd v A Ogden & Sons (Excavations) Ltd [1978] QB 574 is a notable English contract law case that revolves around issues of misrepresentation and the application of the Misrepresentation Act 1967.

Ogden Ltd sought to hire barges for the purpose of dumping excavated clay at sea. Howard Marine Ltd, the barge owner, provided information about the barges' capacity, stating 1600 tonnes based on the Lloyd's Register. However, this information was incorrect, as the actual capacity was 1055 tonnes, a fact known to Howard Marine Ltd. The charterparties, governing the barge hire, stated that Ogden Ltd's acceptance of the barges indicated satisfaction in every way.

When the barges proved inadequate for the job, Ogden Ltd refused to pay the full price, leading Howard Marine Ltd to terminate the agreement and sue for outstanding payments. Ogden Ltd counterclaimed, citing breach of collateral warranty, breach of duty under Section 2(1) of the Misrepresentation Act 1967, and negligent misstatement under Hedley Byrne [1964].

The Court of Appeal, composed of Lord Denning MR, Bridge LJ, and Shaw LJ, concluded that there was no breach of warranty. However, a majority held Howard Marine Ltd liable for breach of duty under Section 2(1) of the Misrepresentation Act 1967. The court emphasised that Howard Marine Ltd had the burden of proving reasonable grounds to believe the misrepresented facts.

Bridge LJ, in his analysis of Section 2(1), highlighted that once a misrepresentation is proven, the burden shifts to the representor to establish reasonable grounds for believing the facts represented. He concluded that Howard Marine Ltd failed to meet this standard, as the eagerness to rely on the incorrect Lloyd's Register over accurate documents was not reasonable.

Moreover, the court considered the validity of the exclusion clause under Section 3 of the Misrepresentation Act 1967, which allows parties to contract out of liability for misrepresentation. Bridge LJ and Shaw LJ agreed that the exclusion clause had not been validly excluded because it did not pass the reasonableness test under Section 3. Lord Denning MR dissented, arguing that there were reasonable grounds to prefer the Lloyd's Register and that the exclusion clause was fair and reasonable, especially given the equal bargaining power of the commercial parties involved.

In essence, the Howard Marine case is significant for its examination of misrepresentation issues under the Misrepresentation Act 1967, including the test of reasonable grounds for belief and the reasonableness assessment of exclusion clauses.
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 
INSEAD
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

    Terminology

    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

    Exam-focused

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