Genius, mistaken or madman?

In 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease at a rent of £45. A long lease is normally 99 years and a lease for 999 years is often seen as equivalent to freehold. So 9000 years? You won’t be surprised to know that he purchased the site a few years later!

If your contract contains mistakes it may be possible to get a court to edit your contract (known as rectification) but not always. In Fairstate Ltd v General Enterprise the English court refused to allow a party to enforce a guarantee because of the sheer volume of critical mistakes.

The court said: the defects in the agreement…are so fundamental and extensive that they cannot sufficiently be cured, either by purposive construction, or by rectification.

There was no clarity in the agreement about all the essential terms so it could not be enforced.


What should you do?

Ensure any written record accurately records the parties’ intentions, with enough certainty that an independent third party can understand precisely what has been agreed.

Case: Fairstate Ltd v General Enterprise & Management Ltd & Anor [2010] EWHC 3072

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