Boulton v Jones – Case Summary

Boulton v Jones

Court of Exchequer

Citations: (1857) 2 Hurlstone and Norman 564; 157 ER 232.


The defendants were habitual customers of Brocklehurst. They sent a written order for goods directed to Brocklehurst. Unbeknownst to the defendants, the claimants had just bought Brocklehurst’s business. The claimants executed the defendant’s order without telling them that Brocklehurst was no longer supplying the goods. The defendant refused to pay the price, so the claimants sued. The defendant alleged that the contract was void for mistake.

  1. Did the defence of mistake apply in these circumstances?

The Court held in the defendants’ favour. The defendant intended to contract with Brocklehurst, not the claimant. As such, there was no contract between the parties.

This Case is Authority For…

This case evidences the proposition that, where parties contract at a distance or in writing, they are taken to intend to contract with a particular named individual. If the claimant is not that individual, they cannot sue the defendant.