Contract Does Not Prevent Claim for Losses Proceeding


The buyer of a Tudor mansion can proceed with a claim for more than £300,000 for loss of fittings and damage to the property, the High Court ruled recently. An application by the vendor of the property to have the claim struck out was rejected by the Court.
The claim arose because after the property purchase was agreed, but before contracts were exchanged, a burglary took place, resulting in substantial damage to the property and the theft of many valuable fittings, such as period fireplaces and doors. The contract for sale included a clause that the sale included ‘all fixtures and fittings therein’.
The buyer had previously carried out a detailed inspection of the property and, although he had been informed that a burglary had taken place, claimed that he was not made aware of the extent of the damage to the property and the losses. He alleged that on the day of the exchange of contracts he was told by the vendor’s agents that there had been damage to a fireplace and he assumed that this was damage of which he was already aware. The agents claimed that the buyer was made aware of the removal of some of the fireplaces and the possibility of further damage.
The Court ruled that the buyer had an arguable claim of deceit on the basis of the non-disclosure by the vendor’s agents of the extent of the damage.
The case will now be heard on the basis of a claim that the exchange of contracts was procured by misrepresentation.
Partner Note
Wickens v Cheval Property Developments Ltd. [2010] EWHC 2249 (Ch).

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