Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd [1972]

Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd [1972]

Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd [1972] EWCA 8 is a significant English contract law case that deals with the measure of damages for disappointing breaches of contract.

Mr Jarvis, a solicitor for Barking Council, booked a Christmas holiday in Switzerland through Swan Tours Ltd. The brochure promised a vibrant house party with various attractions, including skiing and social events. However, upon arrival, Mr Jarvis discovered that the house party was not as advertised, with only 13 people in the first week and none in the second. Moreover, the promised English-speaking host was absent, and the skiing experience fell short of expectations.

Mr Jarvis sued Swan Tours Ltd for breach of contract, seeking damages. The trial judge awarded £31.72, representing half of the amount paid, as the difference between the value paid and the value of the services received. Dissatisfied, Mr Jarvis appealed for additional damages.

Lord Denning MR held that Mr Jarvis was entitled to recover damages not only for the cost of his holiday but also for disappointment, distress, upset, and frustration caused by the breach. He argued that old limitations on damages for distress and disappointment were outdated. Lord Denning awarded £125, considering the emotional impact on Mr. Jarvis.

Lord Denning MR determined that the statements in the brochure constituted representations or warranties, and their breach gave Mr Jarvis a right to damages. He emphasised that the Misrepresentation Act 1967 provided a remedy for damages in cases of misrepresentation.

The central question was the assessment of damages. While the trial judge focused on the difference in value, Lord Denning MR believed that damages should compensate for the loss of entertainment and enjoyment promised in the contract. He compared the situation to a case where a person misses a performance at Glyndebourne due to transportation failure and is entitled to damages beyond the ticket cost.

Lord Denning MR concluded that damages in this case should be £125, taking into account Mr Jarvis's loss of enjoyment and the disappointment caused by the breach. He expressed that damages for mental distress could be recovered in contracts, particularly in cases involving holidays or entertainment contracts.

In summary, this case established that damages in contract cases could include compensation for mental distress, disappointment, and loss of enjoyment, particularly in contracts related to holidays or entertainment.
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