Winn v Bull: ChD 19 Nov 1877

By an agreement in writing, the defendant agreed with the plaintiff to take a lease of a house. The other details were included, but the agreement was ‘subject to the preparation and approval of a formal contract’. The plaintiff sought specific performance.
Held: The words ‘subject to the preparation and approval of a formal contract’ in a document prevented the document from being held to be a final agreement of which specific performance could be enforced.
Sir George Jessel MR said: ‘It comes, therefore, to this, that where you have a proposal or agreement made in writing expressed to be subject to a formal contract being prepared, it means what it says; it is subject to and is dependent upon a formal contract being prepared. When it is not expressly stated to be subject to a formal contract it becomes a question of construction, whether the parties intended that the terms agreed on should merely be put into form, or whether they should be subject to a new agreement the terms of which are not expressed in detail’

Sir George Jessel MR
(1877) 7 Ch D 29, 47 LJ Ch 139, 42 JP 230, 26 WR 230, (1877-1878) 7 ChD 29, [1877] UKLawRpCh 283
England and Wales
Cited by:
FollowedRossdale v Denny CA 1921
The plaintiff offered in writing to purchase a leasehold house, but the letter was to take effect ‘on signing of a formal contract’ and ‘This offer is subject to a formal contract to embody such reasonable provisions as my solicitors may approve’. . .
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 . .
CitedMehta v J Pereira Fernandes SA ChD 7-Apr-2006
The parties were in dispute. The now respondent threatened winding up. The appellant had someone in his company send an email requesting an adjournment and apparently giving a personal guarantee to a certain amount. The application was adjourned, . .
CitedHutchison and others v B and DF Ltd ChD 3-Oct-2008
The claimants sought an order declaring that the defendant had a tenancy and requiring it to execute an appropriate lease. The landlords said that the tenant had a continuation lease under the 1954 renewal procedure, and the tenants said they had . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Landlord and Tenant

Updated: 19 January 2022; Ref: scu.183731