Ecay v Godfrey – Case Summary

Ecay v Godfrey

High Court

Citations: [1947] 80 Lloyd’s Rep 286.


The claimant contracted to buy a boat from the defendant for £750. Before contracting, the defendant told the claimant that the boat was in reasonable condition. The defendant had considerably more expertise on the matter than the claimant. However, he instructed the claimant to get a professional survey of the boat to check for himself. The claimant declined to survey the boat and went ahead with the contract. It turned out that the boat had considerable defects.

The claimant sued for breach of contract. The defendant responded that his representations about the quality of the boat had not become terms of the contract.

  1. Were the defendant’s statements contract terms or mere representations?

The High Court held that the defendant’s representations had not become part of the contract. This was because the statements were too equivocal and non-absolute to indicate that they were intended to be contract terms. This was reinforced by the defendant’s recommendation that the claimant survey the boat himself. This would indicate to a reasonable person that the defendant did not have absolute confidence in his assessment, despite his superior knowledge.

This Case is Authority For…

Where the maker of the statement indicates a lack of confidence in the statement, such as by asking the claimant to make their own checks, the statement is more likely to be a representation than a term of the contract.