Michael Richards Properties Ltd v Corporation of Wardens of St Saviour’s Parish Southwark: 1975

Property was offered for sale by tender. The tender documents contained all the detailed terms upon which the contract was to be based. The successful tender was accepted by letter, but by mistake the secretary who typed it typed in the words ‘subject to contract’ at the bottom. The purchaser had refused to complete after discovering that the local authority intended to acquire the property compulsorily.
Held: Since there was nothing left to negotiate, the words subject to contract could be rejected as meaningless. As to the request for the return of the deposit: ‘Section 49, however, was passed to remove the former hardship which existed where a defendant had a good defence in equity to a claim for specific performance but no defence in law, and, therefore, the deposit was forfeited. I am not prepared to say that the jurisdiction can only be exercised in such a case, but outside that ambit, it should only be exercised, if at all, sparingly and with caution.
Here the plaintiffs have advanced only two reasons why I should exercise my discretion in their favour. First, that if I do not, the defendants will have made a profit, and secondly, that the warning concerning the views of the local authority could have been communicated before the deposit was paid. The first element, however, is inherent in cases where a deposit is forfeited, and the second is not really significant because the contract was concluded before then by the letter of acceptance . . .’
Goff J
[1975] 2 All ER 416
Law of Property Act 1925 49(2)
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedConfetti Records (A Firm), Fundamental Records, Andrew Alcee v Warner Music UK Ltd (Trading As East West Records) ChD 23-May-2003
An agreement was made for the assignment of the copyright in a music track, but it remained ‘subject to contract’. The assignor later sought to resile from the assignment.
Held: It is standard practice in the music licensing business for a . .
CitedBayoumi v Women’s Total Abstinence Union Ltd and Another CA 5-Nov-2003
A charity entered into a contract for the sale of land. It failed to comply with the requirements under the Act. The purchaser assigned the benefit of the contract, to the claimant who sought to enforce the contract.
Held: The section only . .
CitedHaslemere Estates Ltd v Baker 1982
A contract for the sale of land by a charity was expressed to be subject to and conditional upon the grant of a consent before 31 March 1982 and if consent was not granted before that date then the contract was to be ‘null and void and of no further . .
CitedMIDILL (97Pl) Ltd v Park Lane Estates Ltd and Another CA 11-Nov-2008
Refusal to return Land Contract Deposit
The court was asked as to whether a seller could retain a deposit paid by the claimant on a sale where contracts had been exchanged but the buyer had proved unable to go ahead.
Held: The appeal against refusal of return of the deposit failed. . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 May 2021; Ref: scu.183734