Higgins v Argent Developments

 
FREE EXCERPT

2003 WJSC-SC 6049

THE SUPREME COURT

Keane C.J.

Geoghegan J.

McCracken J.

51/02
HIGGINS v. ARGENT DEVELOPMENTS LTD

BETWEEN

HIGGINS
APPLICANT

AND

ARGENT DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED
RESPONDENTS

Citations:

STATUTE OF FRAUDS 1695

Synopsis:

CONTRACT LAW

Formation

Oral agreement - Whether sufficient note or memorandum in writing - Accuracy of written note - Whether complete - Statute of Frauds, 1695 (51/2002 - Supreme Court - 13/5/2003)

Higgins v Argent Developments

1

JUDGMENT of the Court (ex-tempore) delivered the 13th day of May 2003, by Keane C.J.

2

This is an appeal from a judgment and order of the High Court (Mr. Justice O'Sullivan), in which he granted a decree for specific performance of certain lands at Clonmel which are the property of the defendant company. The defendants have appealed to this court from the finding of the learned High Court judge that the contract ought to be specifically performed.

3

Some of the facts, at least, were not and are not now in dispute. The plaintiff, Mr. John Higgins, was interested in purchasing certain lands which are identified at Davis Road, Clonmel approximately 10.7 acres. He had a particular reason for wanting to buy them because they adjoined his own property and he was concerned to ensure that they were either not developed at all or at all events were only developed in a manner over which he had some control. There were discussions on the telephone between himself and Mr. Robert Nugent, who was the auctioneer acting as agent for a Mr. John Butler, who was, in fact, the majority shareholder and effectively the person controlling the defendant company who were the owners of the land in question.

4

Again, there is no dispute that after a certain amount of negotiations over the telephone, with obviously Mr. Butler being consulted by Mr. Nugent as his agent, as to what he might be prepared to take for the lands, the parties ultimately came to an agreement that they should be sold to the plaintiff for the sum of £380,000. It was also agreed, on that same day, 24 th September 1998, that the plaintiff was to call into the office of the auctioneer, Mr. Nugent in Clonmel, to sign the agreement and to pay a booking deposit of £10,000. It was clearly agreed in the course of that conversation, that there would be a booking deposit of £10,000 and it was also not seriously in dispute that Mr. Nugent made it clear that when the formal contract for sale, was sent out the plaintiff would have to pay to 10% deposit in the normal way and would therefore have to pay an extra £28,000. There was not the slightest difficulty or difference between the parties about that. That was all agreed.

5

What happened next was that the plaintiff went into Mr. Nugent's office as agreed and Mr. Nugent had typed up a document, which I should read in full, on the headed notepaper of Messrs. Stokes and Quirke, the auctioneers of whom Mr. Nugent was a member. It is dated the

6

24 th September 1998,

7

addressed to

8

Mr. John Higgins,

9

Davis Road,

10

Clonmel,

11

Re: Lands at Davis Road, Clonmel Circa 10.7 acres.

12

Dear Mr. Higgins,

13

We, as agents for the vendor, Mr. John Butler, hereby agree the sale of the above lands to John Higgins subject to the following conditions.

14

1. Sale price £380,000 ...

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