Raffles v. Wichelhaus

Court of Exchequer, 1864.

2 Hurlstone & Coltman 906.

Dawson, pp. 358-359


Facts: The plaintiff agreed to sell the defendant cotton that was going to arrive from Bombay on a ship called the “Peerless”.  Little did they know that there were actually lots of ships with that name.  When one of the “Peerlesses” arrived, the plaintiff was ready to sell, but the defendant repudiated.  The defendant argued that the agreement had been to buy cotton from the other “Peerless” which arrived in October, and so the defendant wasn’t bound to buy cotton off of the “Peerless” that arrived in December.  The plaintiffs argued that it didn’t matter what ship it was and that the point of naming the ship was that if the ship sunk while in transit, the contract would be void.


Issue: Should the defendant be bound by the agreement to buy the cotton from the other “Peerless”?


Rule: There is no binding contract unless both sides agreed to the same thing.


Analysis: Apparently, the court accepts the argument of the defense that the contract was too ambiguous to uphold.


Conclusion: The court finds for the defendant.


Back to Mutual Assent

Back to Casebook Notes