Whittington v Seale-Hayne [1900]

Whittington v Seale-Hayne [1900] 82 LT 49, an English contract law matter centred around misrepresentation, particularly addressing the claim for indemnities under English law concerning consequential costs arising from a contract that was influenced by a non-innocent misrepresentation.

Mr Whittington, engaged in breeding prize poultry, purchased a long farm lease based on Seale-Hayne's representation that the premises were sanitary and in good repair. However, the reality was that the water supply was contaminated, resulting in illness to Mr Whittington's manager and the death of the poultry. The council declared the premises unfit for habitation, and extensive repairs were required, as per the lease agreement. Mr Whittington sought rescission of the contract and indemnity for various losses, including the loss of poultry, lost profits, and medical expenses.

Justice Farwell held that Mr Whittington was entitled to indemnity for certain specific losses, such as rates paid or repair costs. However, he clarified that no further losses beyond the scope of the indemnity could be claimed. The judge emphasised that the losses incurred did not result in any benefit to Seale-Hayne. Additionally, since the misrepresentation was not fraudulent, damages were not applicable, and therefore, no compensation could be granted. Justice Farwell rejected the idea that rescission should place the rescinder in a position status quo ante, asserting that seeking compensation for the consequences of misrepresentations was equivalent to claiming damages.

The case's significance lies in its treatment of indemnities and the limitation on the scope of losses that can be claimed in the context of misrepresentation. It should be noted that under contemporary legal frameworks, a claim for damages might be pursued under principles established in cases like Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd [1964] or under Section 2(1) of the Misrepresentation Act 1967.
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