• In the case of Jarvis v Swan Tours Ltd [1973] QB 233, it was held that where the object of the contract is enjoyment, damages for the disappointment of a party at the loss of promised facilities for enjoyment can be recoverable. This will count as mental distress.

Facts of Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd [1973] QB 233

  • C (Jarvis) booked a Christmas holiday with the Ds, Swans Tours
  • He had booked it on the reliance of the Ds’ brochure naming a ‘house party centre’
  • For the booking, C paid £63.45
  • The holiday was a disappointment for the C who then claimed damages which included damages for the inconvenience and loss of benefit
  • The County Court awarded the C half of what he claimed, finding that the second week was inferior to the first
  • C appealed against the amount of damages, believing the award to be inadequate

Issues in Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd [1973] QB 233

  • Should one be awarded damages for disappointment of enjoyment he was promised?

Held by the Court of Appeal

Appeal allowed. The C was awarded damages based on his disappointment with the overall holiday.

Lord Denning M.R.

Citing Hamlin [1856] and Hobbs [1875], Lord Denning noted the previous position of the law in respect of mental distress [237]:

  • “It has often been said that on a breach of contract damages cannot be given for mental distress.”
  • “The courts in those days only allowed the plaintiff to recover damages if he suffered physical inconvenience, such as having to walk five miles home, as in Hobbs’ case; or to live in an over-crowded house … Bullock [1950]

However, Lord Denning believed those limitations to be outdated, and mental distress could be recovered in contract cases, “just as damages for shock can be recovered in tort.” [238]

He went further stating [238]:

  • “If the contracting party breaks his contract, damages can be given for the disappointment, the distress, the upset and frustration caused by the breach. I know that it is difficult to assess in terms of money, but it is no more difficult than the assessment which the courts have to make every day in personal injury cases for loss of amenities.”
  • Applying this to Mr Jarvis’ case, Lord Denning believed the C should be compensated for the holiday he was looking forward to since booking in advance

Loss of enjoyment should be compensated, and Lord Denning used Lord Justice Edmund Davies’ point to illustrate such [238]:

  • “a man who has taken a ticket for Glyndbourne. It is the only night on which he can get there. He hires a car to take him. The car does not turn up. His damages are not limited to the mere cost of the ticket. He is entitled to general damages for the disappointment he has suffered and the loss of the entertainment which he should have had.”
  • As was the situation in the present case where, albeit fed and sheltered, the C did not receive what he had went on the holiday for; thus “is entitled to damages for the lack of those facilities, and for his loss of enjoyment.”