Everyone makes mistakes: even the courts recognise this.
Recently, a structural steel erection and roof cladding firm found itself in court when a tender it had submitted for work contained an error. The tender was in two parts, worth £38,000 (for the steel works) and £32,000 (for the cladding) respectively. However, when the tender was submitted, the sum for the cladding was omitted.
The tender was used by a contractor to bid for a building contract, which it won. When the firm later submitted a revised tender, the contractor claimed it was bound to the lower price originally quoted.
The matter ended up in court, the contractor claiming that it had received one quote to cover all the work and the steel erector claiming that it was an error and it was entitled to a reasonable payment for the work done.
The judge concluded that an honest and reasonable man would have spotted the error straight away and the contractor’s response went ‘beyond the boundaries of fair dealing’.
Accordingly, the court ruled that the steel erector was entitled to fair payment for both parts of the contract and was not bound by the tender submitted in error.
Says Jeremy Walker, “Attempting to rely on an obvious error of the other party to a contract can be dangerous. If you find yourself in circumstances similar to the above, we can advise on the appropriate course of action.”