Vitiating Factors – 5 Major Vitiating Factors

Vitiating Factors are statements that drastically destroy or reduce the effectiveness of something or an agreement or contract which causes it to become faulty or makes it invalid.

Vitiating Factors Affecting a Contract are:

  • Mistakes.
  • Misinterpretation.
  • Duress.
  • Undue influence.
  • Illegality.

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Mistakes:

They are categorized into 4 types namely; common mistakes, unilateral mistakes, mutual mistakes, and mistakes relating to identity.

  • Common mistakes: A mistake that both parties to the contract concluded under the same misapprehension about some facts which lie at the basis of the agreement.
  • Unilateral mistakes: A mistake where one party is mistaken, while the other party knowing fully of his partner’s mistake, still takes advantage.
  • Mutual mistakes: A misunderstanding between the parties entering into a contract as to the intention of the other party.
  • Mistake relating to identity: If one party uses the identity of someone in forming the contract.
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Misinterpretation:

It is a false statement that induces the other party to enter into the contracts or an agreement either by FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION, NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION, AND INNOCENT MISREPRESENTATION.

  • Fraudulent misrepresentation defined by LordHerschell in DERRY V. PEEK 1889 is a false statement made knowingly, or without belief in its truth, or recklessly, or carelessly whether it is true or false.
  • Negligent misrepresentation is made carelessly, or without reasonable grounds for believing it to be true. Misrepresentation cannot be regarded as negligent and, therefore, giving rise to liability on the part of the representator unless he owes a duty of care to the representee.
  • Innocent misrepresentation is neither fraudulent nor negligent. It is made without any belief in its truth.
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Duress:

The parties must enter into a contract-free from any coercion or threat if such a contract is to be enforceable by the court. However, there are certain situations where duress is exerted on the party into a contract.

Undue Influence:

This may occur due to the relationship with someone that gives rise to enter into a contract with another party. It may occur if one person has dominance over others, and such a person may use undue influence party to enter into a contract.

Illegality:

This dictates that any contract that is against the public policy is considered to be illegal and would be enforceable at the court of law. Read more on Breach of Contract

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