Dick Bentley Productions Ltd v Harold Smith (Motors) Ltd – Case Summary

Dick Bentley Productions Ltd v Harold Smith (Motors) Ltd

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1965] 1 WLR 623; [1965] 2 All ER 65; (1965) 109 SJ 329; [1965] CLY 3520.


The claimant was looking to buy a car. He went to the defendant, a car dealer. The claimant told the defendant that he wanted a well-vetted, ‘quality’ British car, whose history could be obtained from its makers. The defendant said they had procured such a car. The claimant inspected the car, seeing that its speedometer indicated that it had done a mileage of 20,000. The defendant affirmed on two other occasions that the car had done only 20,000 miles. After the claimant bought the car, he began having numerous problems with it. He then discovered that its true mileage had been more like 100,000.

The claimant sued the defendant for breach of contract. He argued that the defendant had warranted that the car had only done 20,000 miles.

  1. Was the defendant’s statement a contractual term?

The court held in favour of the claimant. The representation was a term of the contract, and the defendant had breached that term

This Case is Authority For…

A representation is a term of the contract if a reasonable bystander would think that the parties intended it to be a contract term. Factors relevant to this include:

  • Whether the representor was in a better position to know or discover the truth of the statement;
  • Whether the representor had a reasonable foundation for making the statement;
  • Whether the statement was made to induce the other to enter the contract.

The court will rebuttably presume the statement is a contract term if it was designed to induce the other party to enter the contract.