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Smith v Hughes [1871]

Facts

  • Smith agreed to purchase some oats from Hughes to feed his racehorse
  • Hughes delivered green oats (also known as new oats) to Smith
  • Racehorses cannot be fed on green oats, they must be fed on much more expensive ‘old oats’ which Smith believed he was going to get

Issue

  • Could the contract be avoided as Hughes had delivered the wrong type of oats

Decision

  • No avoidance, contract remained in place

Reasoning

  • Smith had not pointed out the potential confusion to Hughes
  • There was no reason to believe, from their communication, that Smith explicitly required old oats
  • Affirmation of the principle of buyer beware, and that contractual agreements are objectively judged
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