Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Mistake as to identity

                      Mistake as to identity


Assumption of false identity

Mistake as to identity occurs where one of the parties represents himself to be some person other than he really is. Thus, for example, in Jaggan nath versus Secy of state for India: A person, called S, a brother of the plaintiff represented himself as plaintiff and thereby induced a government Agent to contract with him.

The Court, finding that the government’s agent was deceived by the conduct of the plaintiff and his brother as to the person with whom he was dealing, held that there was no valid contract. The defendant’s agent intended to contract only with S’s brother and not with S and S knew this. 

In the above case, the government’s offer was meant for S and his brother posing as S accepted it. This prevented real consent. It means that an offer which is meant for one person cannot be accepted by another.

Mistake caused by takeover of business 

In England there is a long line of cases on the subject. In Boulton verses Jones the mistake arose natural in the course of business.

The plaintiff had taken over the business of one Broklehurst. The defendant used to deal with Broklehurst not knowing of the change sent him an order for certain goods. The order was received by the plaintiff you send the goods. The defendant came to know how to change only when he received and invoice and by that time he had already consumed the goods. The defendant had a set off against Broklehurst and therefore refused to pay the price. The plaintiff sued him.

Mistake of identity caused by fraud

The principle of this case found for the support in Hardman versus booth :

The plaintiffs, meaning to deal with Thomas Gandell and sons went to their office and took an order from a person who presented himself to be a partner in the firm. He told the plaintiffs that they goods should be sent in the name of Edward Gandell and sons. He received the goods, carried them away and sold them to the defendant, a bona fide buyer. The plaintiff sued the defendant to recover the goods.

Distinction between identity and attributes

A distinction has been made for this purpose between a person’s identity and its attributes and mistake about the latter has been held not to avoid an agreement. There can be mistake of identity only when a person wearing a particular identity exists with the knowledge of the plaintiff and the plaintiff intends to deal with him only. If the name assumed by the swindler is fictitious there will be no mistake of identity. For instance, in king’s Norton metal Co limited versus Edridge, Merrett and Co limited

A man named Wallis adopted the name of Hallam and company, a non-existent firm and by letters placed order for some goods with the plaintiff so complied with the order by sending the goods. Wallis sold goods to the defendants who acted in good faith. The plaintiff sued the defendant for the value of the goods.


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