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The Mitchell’s Case Analysis Essay

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Updated: Mar 12th, 2022

Mitchell gave rise to numerous disputes concerning fair and reasonableness of the exemptions clauses, which failed to take the buyers’ rights into consideration. Hence, the Trial held in the Court of Appeals discussed the case in reliance on the common and statutory law. During the trial, there were numerous arguments against and in favor of the appellants under different law positions. More importantly, the accusations imposed on the sellers had proved to be void according to the common law but not according to the Supply of Goods Act 1973 and Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.

According to Lord Bridge, Finney Lock Seeds Ltd supplied 30 lb of cabbage seeds to Mitchell company. The sort of the plant had been discussed earlier and proved in the invoice. However, the seeds turned out to be defective due two reasons: seeds were not of the sort stipulated in the invoice and they were of a very low quality. To solve this issue, Lord Bridge narrowed the matter to three questions. In this first sentence, he discredited the relevancy of the circumstances under which the exemption clause turned out to be unreasonable. The second issue under consideration was whether the liabilities should have been imposed on this case. Finally, he also stated that the seeds trade had not been mentioned in ether statutory law or common.

There is an outright contradiction between the common law and statutory as far as the exclusion clauses are concerned. Hence, the Court of Appeal agreed on the fact that the exemption clause covering the breach had occurred as the result of inappropriate construction. In similar cases, the courts argued the necessity to decide whether the issue of construction extended the exemption clauses to limit the liability at issues. However, in case it did, it was impossible to reject or overreach the clause under the common law instead treating it as inapplicable to ‘fundamental’ breach.

Once again, when referring to the statutory law, the buyers were left no chances for reimbursement as the breach was completely covered by the exemption clause. However, Mitchell case proves that sometimes the breach is possible to cover by the contract terms “provided the wording of the exemption clause was clear unambiguous”, as it was also mentioned by Lord Diplock. Then, to avoid additional contradictions emerged due to the presence of the clause of the Sale of Goods Acts 1979, it is obligatory to resort to the Unfair Contract Terms Act o1979, as this was the first statute disclosing the definition of fairness and reasonableness. Hence, in reliance on this definition, it is possible to reference when regarding the reasonableness of the exclusion clauses. Finally, UCTA 1977 comprises statutory provisions that influence the enforceability of specific contract terms. Finally, Mitchell case argues the necessity to examine the circumstances under which it is possible to restrict the sellers’ liability, as stipulated in schedule 2 of UCTA 1977 and section 55 of SAGA 1979.

The contradiction appeared between the parties concerned turned out to be complicated due to the trial procedures held in different courts. Therefore, “while the courts have made clear that the decision on the issue of reasonableness of a contract terms for these purposes remains primarily for the trial court….the higher courts will not generally overturn such a decision”

As a conclusion, it should be stressed that the arguments delivered by Lord Bridge were rather persuasive and consistent, as he managed to consider both common law and statutory law. Hence, being guided by the term provisions of UCTA 1977 and the Sale of Goods Act 1979, he proved that the appellants deserved the reimbursement due to the circumstances. As a whole, this case proves that statutory laws do not comprise all aspects of legitimacy and reasonableness.

Reference List

Grundman, S., and Mazeaud, D. 2006. General clauses and standards in European contract law: comparative law, EC law and contract law codification

Hanson, S.,2003. Legal method & and reasoning. US: Routledge Cavendish, p. 310.

Lawson, R. 2005. Exclusion Clauses unfair contract terms. US: Sweet & Maxwell p. 89.

Smith, R. 2009. Conversion Course Companion for Law: Core Legal Principle and Cases for Cpe/Gdl. US: Pearson Education. p. 193.

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