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Phillips v Brooks [1919] 2 KB 243

A rogue purchased some items from the claimant's jewellers shop claiming to be Sir George Bullogh. He paid by cheque and persuaded the jewellers to allow him to take a ring immediately as he claimed it was his wive's birthday the following day. He gave the address of Sir George Bullogh and the jewellers checked the name matched the address in a directory. The rogue then pawned the ring at the defendant pawn brokers in the name of Mr. Firth and received £350. He then disappeared without a trace. The claimant brought an action based on unilateral mistake as to identity.

Held: The contract was not void for mistake. Where the parties transact face to face the law presumes they intend to deal with the person in front of them not the person they claim to be. The jewellers were unable to demonstrate that they would only have sold the ring to Sir George Bullogh.

Back to lecture outline on Mistake