A mistake in contract law is an erroneous belief held by one or both parties to a contract at the time of its formation. A mistake may arise as to the:

subject matter or terms of the contract,

identity of the other party,

nature of the transaction.

The doctrine of mistake should not be confused with the law of misrepresentation where a party is induced to enter into a contract on the basis of a misrepresentation, whether innocent, negligent or fraudulent.

There are three types of mistake of fact:

common mistake – both parties make the same mistake

mutual mistake – each party makes a different mistake, and

unilateral mistake – only one party makes the mistake and the other party is aware of the mistake



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David has an LL.B (Hons) degree in law. He was voted one of the UK’s most influential aspiring lawyers. He was also directly involved in the protection of workers’ rights as respected Union Rep for Usdaw, and he is the Non-Executive Legal Director for the Humber Taxi Association.

Examples of Mistake

Example of mistake

Mr Day is talking with Mr Night regarding a “mustang” for sale for £15,000. They both assume the I.D of the mustang. Mr Day agrees to buy the mustang. However Mr. Day upon delivery is shocked because he believed the mustang was a car. But Mr Night was selling a horse. There has been a mistake as to the subject matter of the contract.

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