Smith v Land House Property Corporation [1884]

Smith v Land House Property Corporation [1884] 28 Ch D 7 revolved around the characterisation of a statement made by the claimant regarding the quality of a tenant in the context of selling a hotel.

Land House Property Corporation entered into a contract with Smith to sell a hotel. In the advertisement, Smith described the current tenant (Fleck) as a most desirable tenant. However, the reality was that Fleck was six months behind on his rent. Later, Fleck went bankrupt, leading Land House Property Corporation to refuse to complete the transaction. Smith sought specific performance of the contract.

The Court of Appeal held that Smith's claim for specific performance was denied as the contract was rescinded for misrepresentation. Bowen LJ emphasised the principle that statements of opinion can be considered statements of fact if the facts are not equally known to both parties. If the person expressing the opinion has superior knowledge of the facts, then the statement of opinion implies that there are underlying facts justifying that opinion. In such cases, a statement of opinion can contain an actionable statement of fact.

In the context of the case, Bowen LJ argued that what Smith knew about the relationship between himself and Fleck was not equally known to others. While Smith may express an opinion about the desirability of the tenant, the statement implies that Smith knows certain facts justifying that opinion. The guarantee that nothing has occurred in the relations between the landlord and the tenant that would make the tenant unsatisfactory is considered an assertion of fact.

The Court of Appeal held that the misrepresentation regarding the tenant's desirability amounted to an actionable statement of fact, leading to the rescission of the contract for misrepresentation. This decision reinforces the principle that statements of opinion can be treated as statements of fact when the party expressing the opinion possesses superior knowledge of the underlying facts.
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.