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<br>Scriven Bros v Hindley – 1913 3 KB 564

Legal Case Summary

Scriven Bros and Co. v Hindley and Co. [1913] 3 KB 564

Contract – Mutual Mistake – Subject Matter – Voiding a Contract – Reasonable Man – Sample – Consensus ad Idem – Meeting of the minds


The complainants, Scriven Bros and Co, instructed an auctioneer to sell large bales of tow and hemp on behalf of them at an auction. The bales looked rather similar in the way they were packaged and the samples that were on display to potential bidders were not easily distinguishable. The defendants, Hindley and Co, believed they were bidding for two lots of hemp, when actually one of the lots was tow. The bid that was made was overpriced, but was accepted by the complainants. When the defendants found out that it was tow, they refused to pay for the lot and the complainant sued them for the price.


The issue in this case was whether there was a contract between the two parties or if it would be void for mutual mistake as to the subject matter of the contract.

Decision / Outcome

The court held that there was no contract between the complainant and defendant, due to faults on both sides. This meant that there was no consensus ad idem or meeting of the minds to make it a binding contract. The complainant had not made the hemp and tow samples sufficiently clear and the defendant had not brought a catalogue along to the auction, as well as inspected the samples thoroughly before bidding. The defendant’s negligence contributed to the mistakes of the complainant in this case.

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Answering problem questions in the University of London LLB programme requires a clear understanding of legal principles, good analytical skills and the ability to apply the law to a given set of facts. Here are some tips to help you answer problem questions effectively:

  1. Read the question carefully: Make sure you understand what the question is asking before you begin writing.
  2. Identify the legal issues: Identify the legal issues raised by the facts and the relevant laws that apply to those issues.
  3. Analyze the facts: Analyze the facts presented in the question, focusing on the details that are relevant to the legal issues.
  4. Apply the law: Apply the relevant laws to the facts, making sure to consider all relevant legal principles and cases.
  5. Structure your answer: Use a clear and well-structured approach, starting with an introduction that outlines the main legal issues, followed by a discussion of the relevant laws and a conclusion that summarizes your analysis and sets out your conclusion.
  6. Use relevant cases and statutes: Cite relevant cases and statutes to support your analysis and help illustrate the legal principles you are discussing.
  7. Be concise: Be concise and to the point, focusing on the key issues and avoiding unnecessary detail.
  8. Proofread: Proofread your answer carefully to make sure it is error-free and clear.
  9. Time management: Make sure you manage your time effectively, leaving enough time to review your answer and make any necessary corrections.

By following these tips, you should be able to answer problem questions in the University of London LLB programme effectively and with confidence. Good luck!

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