No Mooring, Moor Problems
Thursday 28th September 2017
A case involving the mooring of luxury houseboats has recently been decided by the High Court
A boat seller at the Hampton Riviera sold boats to two couples on the basis that the price included 125-year residential mooring licences at the marina. However, not only did the licences not exist, the seller never had any right to offer them.
Despite knowing this, and that both couples had sold their homes to fund the purchases and were relying on the 125-year mooring licences, the seller continued with the sales.
When the duped buyers moved into the boats, they were told they had to pay the seller mooring premiums which they had previously been unaware of, leaving them substantially out of pocket. The buyers brought a claim for breach of contract.
The Court found in favour of the buyers, even though the promised moorings and their costs were not part of any of the contractual documents. The assurance that there would be moorings included was fundamental to the buyers and they would not have proceeded without them. Contractual arguments that the written agreement was the entire agreement were unsuccessful, as the intention had been to include the previous discussions. Even if this were not the case, the ‘entire agreement’ clause would be unfair in the circumstances, and unenforceable.
It also came to light that the seller did not have permission to create moorings, as his planning application had been refused. It followed that the seller could not even offer the moorings for sale. The Court found that the seller had misrepresented his position and the borrowers had relied on these representations in selling their houses and buying the boats. They had suffered a substantial loss and had nowhere to live, as one boat was too big to go anywhere else, and the seller had repossessed the other boat. The Court awarded the buyers the full amount they paid.
Comment: This case highlights the importance of staying true to the fundamental components of an agreement and not making false promises to induce a purchase, then preparing contracts to try and circumvent basic agreed terms. The Court will look at the true intentions of the parties and won’t take kindly to slippery characters.
It also shows that the Court will look to help consumers who are dealing with sellers operating at the edges of the law.
If you have any questions about this or would like to find out more, please contact Catherine Woodward on 0113 227 0366 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org