Lewis v Averay [1972] 1 QB 198

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Facts
  • Lewis sells his car (unknowingly) to a rogue who uses a bad cheque. He mistook the identity of the person (thinking he was a film star)
  • The rogue sells the car to a third person, Averay
  • Lewis sues Averay in conversion
Issue
  • Did property rights transfer by the contract between Lewis and the Rogue?
Held
  • Nothing displaced the presumption that in handing over the cheque and log book, a binding contract re: ownership formed between the rogue and Lewis
  • Averay then got property rights as an innocent purchaser therefore
  • Denning J: A mistake by one party as to the other party’s identity does not make the contract void ab initio, even when fraud is an issue, though it may be voidable before rights pass to a third party
  • Megaw J: Even though a contract can be voidable due to mistake, there is nothing in the facts that suggest the identity was a vital part of the contract.

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