Error Below Indian Contract Regulation, 1872

Error under the Indian Treaty Act of 1872, written by Mohammad Shuja Uzair, a student at NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai


Contract law was the first commercial law to emerge in the course of the development of trade and commerce. British India refined Great Britain’s contract law and received its Indian contract law in 1872. On this basis, specialized laws have developed in India over time. The contract process includes offer, acceptance, consideration, but more importantly, the meeting of the ghosts. Both parties to the contract must be on the same page to be legitimate. If not, the parties were wrong about the aspect of the contract. There are various reasons and scenarios in which such an “error” would occur. Here errors would be based on laws, facts, etc. There are similar provisions of this erroneous part of the Indian Contract Act of 1872 in the Indian Criminal Code of 1860. In the Criminal Code, error is a criminal defense. The law is effective in seeking remedy for an unjust contract.


With the development of trade and commerce, contract law was the first commercial law to emerge. To make this possible, British India borrowed and improved upon the UK’s contract law. British India received its Indian treaty law in 1872. As a general legal system, the principles were established by the UK courts. With contract law as the general law and foundation, specialized laws have developed in India over time.
The contract process includes offer, acceptance, consideration, but more importantly, the meeting of the ghosts. Both parties to the contract must be on the same page to be legitimate. If not, the parties were wrong about the aspect of the contract. There are various reasons and scenarios in which such an “error” would occur. ‘
The concept of error is mentioned in Chapter II of India’s Contracts Act, which deals with void contracts and void agreements. Consent is defined in the law in such a way that two people agree on the same thing. While “free consent” would be when that consent is not influenced by any factor or caused by coercion, improper influence, fraud, misrepresentation, or error. So a mistake would generally be an exception to free consent in a contract. It is specifically mentioned in Sections 20, 21 and 22.
Agreement void if both parties make a mistake about the facts – If both parties to an agreement have a mistake about a fact that is material to the agreement, the agreement is void.
Declaration – A wrong opinion about the value of the thing that is the subject of the agreement is not a factual error. “
“Factual” here would mean that the parties to the case have consent, but an object / fact misled them or they were not aware of it.
For example, A agrees to buy a Persian kitten from B. It later emerges that at the time of the contract negotiations, the kitten was dead and neither party was aware of it.
Therefore the agreement is void.
Impact of Legal Error – A contract is not void because it was caused by a mistake relating to any law in force in India. However, a mistake about a law that does not apply in India has the same effect as a mistake of fact.
A and B enter into a contract based on the false assumption that a particular debt is excluded by Indian statute of limitations. The contract is not invalid.
It is emphasized here that – Errors in law relating to India or outside India do not invalidate it. A mistake in fact would not be considered a mistake in the law.
Contract Caused by One Party’s Error in Facts – A contract is not void simply because it was caused by one of the parties who made an error in facts.
This section deals with a scenario where only one party is wrong. The contract will not become invalid if only one party misunderstands the facts of the contract.
There are similar provisions of this flawed part of the Indian Treaty Act of 1872 in the Indian Criminal Code of 1860. Here, flaw is the criminal defense. In certain cases, a criminal receives defense that he / she had no intention of the crime and that the act occurred because of a mistake in the facts relating to the crime or because of a flaw in the law. Sections 76 and 79 of Chapter IV of the Indian Criminal Code of 1860 are generally defended when a crime is committed, and Sections 76 and 79 describe the provisions relating to “errors of fact” and “errors of law”. “Errors of fact” such as when the accused misinterpreted some essential facts that nullify the entire commission of the crime. “Legal error” where the accused did not know or misunderstood the law. However, the second case is very limited, only to certain rare cases.
After examining the provisions provided for in the event of an error in Indian Contract Law, it is clear that this is the case in two situations. Firstly consent and secondly the purpose of the contract. Also, in considering the facts that need to be supplied, only the essential ones need to be considered, relating to the nature of the contract, the identity of the parties and the nature of the item.
Another categorization of the types of errors that could occur during a contract with the existing law would be identity
It would be a mistake to identify when either party presents itself as another person and who that person actually is. An example of such a case would be when the person takes a wrong name, through business takeovers, different identities through fraud, etc. The meaning
The identity of the provider changes in different cases depending on the type of promise.


It is important to have a valid item. On closer examination of the categories of the object, it could be its existence. It would be invalid if the item did not exist during the conclusion of the contract. Other cases would be where one of the parties might make a mistake as to the title and ownership of the item, or the parties have another item in mind, even the content thereof, namely nature, quality or quantity.

Mistake on the part of the law

Since section 21 of the law clearly states that a mistake in the law would not invalidate it, this would not be a valid contract limitation.

Failure assuming facts

Section 20 of the law mentions that material facts of the contract that have been interpreted as errors are void. This could also be seen as unilateral and bilateral, that is, one of the parties and both parties. However, Section 22 mentions that it is not invalid for either party to commit the contractual error. In the event of mutual error regarding facts, it will be void.


These concepts and key issues are best understood in cases where these false contractual points actually emerged as problems.

Gallaway versus Gallaway
This was a case where both parties had the mistake of being married. The two agreed on a separation and agreed on it. Then it turned out that the man’s first wife was still alive, which was actually unknown to both of them. The court ruled that the separation certificate was void. It was on the grounds that the arrangement was made on the belief that they were married to each other, but it turned out to be different when the first woman was alive. ‘

Phillips versus Brooks
A person named North bought some items – pearls and rings – from Philip, who owned a jewelry store. He claimed to be Sir George Bullough. He paid by check and signed, “You see who | I am Sir George Bullough. “He said it was his wife’s birthday the next day and convinced the jewelers that he could take her away immediately. He gave Sir George’s address, which the jewelers also verified with a directory. He then pawned the ring for money with Brooks Limited, a pawnbroker firm. He had mortgaged the ring on behalf of Mr. Firth. Then he disappeared without a trace. The plaintiff filed a unilateral identity misconduct lawsuit.
It was found that the contract was not accidentally void as the law presumes the intent is to negotiate with the person in front of them when there is a personal transaction. The jewelers could not prove that they only sold the ring to a Sir George Bullogh as an exception.

Ayekpam Angahl Singh and another against Union Of India and Ors.
In this case, the plaintiff was the highest bidder in a fisheries auction. The rent was 40,000 per year and the aforementioned rights were auctioned for three years. The plaintiff requested that the rent be accepted for all three years together. So he claimed that he was under the same fault. Since the mistake in this case was one-sided, the contract could not be avoided. “


After examining the provisions of the Indian Treaty Act of 1872, a comparative analysis with another country would shed more light on it. New Zealand has a separate act of its own in relation to a contract failure. The law is called the Contractual Mistakes Act, 1977.
There are different sections relating to fact and law. The codification of contract law has both advantages and disadvantages. Codification would mean that the different provisions with instances for different types of contracts would be explicitly mentioned. On the other hand, the codification was limited to three sections. As such, it is not necessary for a contractual failure to perform an act in its own right, but non-conventional cases should be included over time. It’s still efficient as it remedies when you feel like your contract was unjustified.

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