Pritchard v Cook & Red Ltd (unreported), 4 June 1998
Considered the extent to which expert or special knowledge of a subject matter may affect a party’s liability in negligence law.
The claimant, Pritchard, purchased a prize rally car from the defendant, Cook and Red, on the basis that the defendant had advertised that they could provide the complete specifications for any of their cars upon request. Thus, the claimant had asked for a full specification prior to the purchase of a motor vehicle, and whilst the defendant provided such a document, it had not been originally computed as promised, but rather merely copied from the car’s original retailers. When the specifications subsequently proved inaccurate, the claimant brought a charge for damages against the claimant.
Whether the assurance as to the ability for provision of a detailed and complete specification for the rally car was deemed a representation or key contractual term to the agreement.
The Court of Appeal held that, despite that the defendant had not created the complete specification document they provided, they remained responsible for it as its importance was clear to both parties, particularly as the claimant had emphasized its importance to the defendants and insinuated that he would not proceed with car’s purchase unless such a document was produced.
Subsequently, Evans LJ emphasized that there could be no clear-cut distinction between representations and binding contractual terms as a pre-contractual statement was equally capable of amounting to both, and rather there had to be a clear consideration of all the circumstances and the relative knowledge of the parties at time of contracting.