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Buyer beware in the Court of Appeal

A misrepresentation made during the sale of a property may entitle the buyer to rescind, but Caveat emptor is still the most important caveat, for now, writes Liz Turner

13 October 2015

The case of Hardy v Griffiths [2014] EWHC 3947 (ChD) considers the often asked question about whether a buyer of a residential property is entitled to rely on representations about the physical condition of the property made by a seller during the course of sale and purchase negotiations.

The case concerned the sale and purchase of Laughton Manor, a substantial 17th century country residence close to Lewes, East Sussex. The agreed purchase price was £3.6m. The house was of architectural significance, in so far as it was designed and built by Sir James Duke Bart, a friend of Queen Victoria, and has architectural links to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

At the time of exchange of contracts, the house was allegedly subject to rising damp and rot, which, it was argued, should have been disclosed to the defendants, the prospective purchasers, before they exchanged contracts.

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