Hi, I’m Matt. Thanks very much for joining us.
Last week we had a look at three sets of Legal English terms that have similar meanings, but very different and important meanings in law. I left you with another three sets of words to have a look at, and you can find these in the Legal English dictionary - the Translegal Legal English Dictionary.
If you have a look at the board now you will see that I’ve added two further terms. I’ll just give you a moment to look through these and see if you can spot the two extra terms that I’ve added.
OK. So what we have extra here is "condition" and "warranty", and we’ll come back to the distinction between these in a moment.
OK, so let’s start off with "freehold" and "leasehold". Well these are two kinds of ways of having a ‘possessory interest’ in property, of possessing property, having the right to use property. I have a house in Canterbury, but I haven’t lived there for a long time. Now I bought that house - I own it outright, it’s my house. I own it freehold. But because I don’t live there any more I’ve been renting it out to students, and they have it leasehold so as long as they have the lease, they have that property leasehold. They have the right to live there; they don’t own it, they can’t make any changes, and structural changes to the house - certainly not without my permission - but they do have the right to live there.
OK. I have a contract with them for this house, sometimes referred to as ‘the ‘lease’. This leads us on to the next two terms, "void" and "voidable". So what’s the difference between these two terms? Well, let’s say I have a contract with you, let’s say that you’re renting my house in Canterbury. And you breach one of the terms. Now, if one of the contract terms that you breach, if it’s a condition, then that can render the contract void. That would mean that - well a condition is an essential term, it’s a material term, it’s a very important contract term and, if you breach the condition, then I have the right to decide that I’m going to terminate that contract and sue you for damages. I don’t have to do that, but I can if I want to. However, if the term that you breach is a warranty, a non-essential term - it’s not a material term - I can still sue you for damages if your breach has cost me money, but I can’t void the contract, I can’t terminate the contract. So that’s the difference between these terms here.
And, lastly, "mistake" and "fraud in the inducement". We can come back to the example of the house in Canterbury, or any type of contract really. Let’s say the two contracting parties both have a different understanding as to what’s being bought. So you think you’re buying a red car from me, I think you’re buying a blue car from me, it’s an hones mistake. That can render the contract void, because of a genuine mistake about the nature of the contract. However, if I know that you believe something, some fundamental aspect, some fundamental part of the contract, let’s say that you believe you’re buying some real diamonds from me and I know that what I’m selling you are fake diamonds and I lead you to believe that, it’s a type of fraud and it’s called a "fraud in the inducement". I induce you to enter the contract through fraudulent means. I deliberately try to mislead you; and this is the different between a “mistake”, which is a genuine mistake between two people over one aspect of the contract, or "fraud in the inducement", where one party has deliberately misled another party.
OK, so I hope that’s cleared up a few common confusions. Thank you very much.