• In the case of Phillips v Brooks Ltd [1919] 2 KB 243, the court ruled C intended to negotiate with the contracting party at person even if he was mistaken about the person’s identity due to misrepresentation.
  • This contract case concerned unilateral mistakes, sale of goods and fraud.
  • This case is about mistaken identity during contract negotiations.

Facts of the Case

  • C and a third party contracted for jewellery such as a ring and necklace in the shop but the third party misrepresented themselves.
  • C allowed the third party to leave with the ring. Later after the cheque bounced back and C realized this was fraud, the third party was convicted for the ring.
  • The ring was later discovered in a pawnshop by C. The ring had been pledged to D by the third party hence C claimed damages against D for the ring


  • The main question of this case is whether the property had been given to the impersonator who then had the right to give good title to anyone who acted bona fide without notice.
  • Whether the contract was void.

Held by High Court

  • Contract was not void – the pawnshop brought the ring in good faith.

Horridge J


  • The judge referred to the similar misrepresentation case of Cundy v Lindsay [1878] 3 App Cas 459 to conclude the purchaser had a good title.
  • “Although he believed the person to whom he was handing the ring was Sir George Bullough, he in fact contracted to sell and deliver it to the person who came into his shop, and who was not Sir George Bullough, but a man of the name of North, who obtained the sale and delivery by means of the false pretence that he was Sir George Bullough.”