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Raffles v. Wichelhaus

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 2 H. & C. 906

Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff contracted to sell cotton arriving on a ship called the Peerless to the defendant. As it happened, there were two ships called the Peerless, and the contract did not specify which ship carried the cotton. Defendant refused to accept the cotton when it arrived, and Plaintiff sued.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where a nonmaterial term, such as mode of shipment, is ambiguous, the contract is still enforceable.

Facts. Plaintiff agreed to sell Defendant 125 bales of Surat cotton to arrive via the ship called the Peerless from Bombay. Defendant believed the shipment would arrive on the Peerless that arrived from Bombay in October. However, Plaintiff was unaware of such a ship, as Plaintiff intended that the cotton would arrive via the Peerless from Bombay in December. When the December Peerless arrived with the cotton, Plaintiff was ready and willing to deliver the cotton to Defendant, but Defendant refused to accept the cotton or pay Plaintiff for it.

Issue. Is a contract enforceable where the parties are in disagreement as to the terms dictating shipment and delivery?

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