Case Briefs
Truth and Youth (TAY) 2021. All rights reserved.

Powell Vs Lee


Author – Aditi Goel, 4th Year student at Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA.


Citation: [1908] 99 LT 284

Bench: Kings Bench Division 

Original Copy: N.A.

 

Issues in Question: 

  • Whether there was a breach of contract as suggested by the plaintiff?

Background of the Case

  • The plaintiff applied for the job for the position of a headmaster at a school. There was a committee that made the decisions for hiring. The committee in its meeting, decided to appoint the plaintiff and the manager of the school, considering the selection, put forth a resolution to the committee to hire the defendant. 
  • A member of the same committee informed the plaintiff about the selection from the committee and the resolution that was put forth by the manager. This was just verbal communication, and it is important to note that there was no formal communication from the school to the plaintiff. 
  • The management of the school later and cancelled the resolution for hiring the plaintiff.  The plaintiff did not get the job which he was supposed to get as per the member of the committee.
  • Aggrieved by the decision and confused by the state of affairs, the plaintiff filed a suit in the Court. 

Judgement:

  • The Bench heard the parties, viewed the evidence and came to the conclusion that there was no breach of contract, as there was no contract from the side of the school or the committee or the management. 
  • The plaintiff was informed about the alleged selection that was under discussion when the resolution was submitted.  The information was furnished to him by a member of the committee, and not someone representing the committee. The person of the committee had no authority to do so, nor did he have the consent to inform the plaintiff about something that was not even confirmed yet.
  • There was a resolution that was put forth to the Board. However, there was no form of official confirmation provided to the plaintiff which spoke about his selection as the headmaster of the school. The only form of official information the plaintiff received was from the management that said that the plaintiff was not selected for the position he applied for. 
  • Since there was no contract, only an offer put forward by the plaintiff, there was no breach of the said contract. The status of the contract stood at the offer of the job being rejected by the school. 

Critical Analysis: 

  • The Court’s decision was logically coherent. Any document which is provided by one party to another is at least signed or stamped or given in the official letter head of the party’s company.
  • A contract has an essential of being delivered by a competent authority. The person from the committee who informed the plaintiff was not a competent authority. Though the person was in the committee of the school that made all the major decisions, the same person was not authorised to communicate something to outside parties without the consent of the people who he might be representing. 
  • The concept of due diligence talks about the same as well. If the plaintiff had applied due diligence, he would know that the official notification or letter of appointment or a call would have come from the school itself. There was an incorrect representation by the person from the committee, but it is the duty of the plaintiff to cross check the details to jump to a conclusion that would be beneficial and would have a strong legal backbone. 
  • This case, simply put, is the right example of competency of a person to speak on behalf of the organisation regarding the contract, the essentials of a contract, the breach of a contract and the rejection of an offer. 

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