Bentley (Dick) Productions Ltd v Harold Smith (Motors) Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date03 March 1965
Judgment citation (vLex)[1965] EWCA Civ J0303-3
CourtCourt of Appeal
Date03 March 1965
Dick Bentley Productions Limited
Charles Walter Bentley
Harold Smith (Motors) Limited

[1965] EWCA Civ J0303-3


The Master of the Rolls

(Lord Denning)

Lord Justice Danckwerts and

Lord Justice Salmon

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

MR. COLIN ROSS-MUNRO (Instructed by Messrs. Goodman, Monroe & Co.) appeared as Counsel for the Appellants.

MR. GRAHAM EYRE (instructed by Messrs. Harris, Chetham & Go.) appeared as Counsel for the Respondents.


Mr. Charles Walter Bentley, sometimes known as Dick Bentley, brings an action against Harold Smith (Motors) Limited for damages for breach of warranty on the sale of a car. Mr. Bentley had been dealing with Mr. Smith for a couple of years and told Mr. Smith he was on the look-out for a well vetted Bentley car. In January, 1960, Mr. Smith found one and bought it for £1,500 from a firm in Leicester. He wroteto Mr. Bentley and said: "I have just purchased a Park Ward power operated hood convertible. It is one of the nicest cars we have had in for quite a long time". Mr. Smith had told Mr. Bentley earlier he was in a position to find out the history of cars. It appears that with a car of this quality the makers do keep a complete biography of it.


Mr. Bentley went to see the car. Mr. Smith told him that a German Baron had had this car. He said that it had been fitted at one time with a replacement engine and gearbox, and had done 20,000 miles only since it had been so fitted. The speedometer on the car showed only 20,000 miles. Mr. Smith said the price was £1,850, and he would guarantee the car for 12 months, including parts and labour. That was on the morning of the 23rd January. In the afternoon Mr. Bentley took his wife over to see the car. Mr. Bentley repeated to his wife in Mr. Smith's presence what Mr. Smith had told him in the morning. In particular that Mr. Smith said it had done only 20,000 miles since it had been refitted with a replacement engine and gearbox. Mr. Bentley took it for a short run. He bought the car for £1,850, gave his cheque and the sale was concluded.


The car was a considerable disappointment to Mr. Bentley. He took it back to Smith from time to time. A good deal of work was done on it during the first 12 months guarantee period. Just after the 12 months, in February 1961, there was a knocking noise in the engine. Mr. Bentley took it to Mr. Smith, who told him that the gudgeon pins ought to be replaced Mr. Smith said it would cost £60 because the pins were not covered in the guarantee given by the makers. Thereupon Mr. Bentley said that the work should be done. So work was done on those gudgeon pins costing £60. But at the time when Mr. Smith's firm was doing that work they found out that the cylinder had been scored by broken piston rings. So they, on their own initiative, re-bored the engine. That cost some £130. Thereafter the car was a good deal better. But it had given My Bentley a lot of trouble. And eventually he brought this action against Smith for breach of warranty.


The Judge found that there was a warranty, that it was broken, and that the damages were more than £400, but as the claim was limited to £400, he gave judgment for Mr. Bentley for that amount.


The first point is whether this representation, namely that it had done 20,000 miles only since it had been fitted with a replacement engine and gearbox, was an innocent misrepresentation (which does not give rise to damages), or whether it was a warranty. It was said by Chief Justice Holt, and repeated in Heilbut. Symons & Co. -v- Buckleton, reported in 1913 Appeal Cases at page 49: "An affirmation at the time of the sale is a warranty, provided it appear on evidence to be so intended". But that word "intended" has given rise to difficulties. I endeavoured to explain in Oscar Chess, Ltd. -v- Williams in 1957, 1 Weekly Law Reports, page 375, that the question whether a warranty was intended depends on the conduct of the parties, on their words and behaviour, rather than on their thoughts. If an intelligent bystander would reasonably infer that a warranty was intended, that will suffice. What conduct, then? What words and behaviour lead to the inference of a warranty?


Looking at the cases once more, as we have done so often, it seems to me that if a representation is made in the course of dealings for a contract for the very purpose of inducing the other party to act upon it, and actually inducing him to act upon it, by entering into the contract, that is prima facie ground for inferring that it was intended as a warranty. It is not necessary to speak of it as being collateral. Suffice it that it was intended to be acted upon and was in fact acted on. But the maker of the representation can rebut this inference if he can show that it really was an innocent misrepresentation, in that he was in fact innocent of fault in making it, and that it would not be reasonable in the circumstances for him to be bound by it. In the Oscar Chess case the inference was rebutted. There a man had bought a second-hand car andreceived with it a log-book which stated the year of the car, 1948. He afterwards resold the car. When he resold it he simply repeated what was in the log-book and passed it on to the buyer. He honestly believed on reasonable grounds that it was true. He was completely innocent of any fault. There was no warranty by...

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82 cases
3 books & journal articles
  • Security for performance
    • United Kingdom
    • Construction Law. Volume II - Third Edition
    • 13 April 2020
    ...In practice, however, such a provision is unlikely to be encountered. 562 Dick Bentley Productions Ltd v Harold Smith (Motors) Ltd [1965] 1 WLr 623 at 627, per Lord Denning Mr. Compare Gable House Estates Ltd v he Halpern Partnership (1995) 48 Con Lr 1 at 123–124, per Judge Esyr Lewis QC. S......
  • Contract Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2011, December 2011
    • 1 December 2011
    ...question, the court relied on Lord Denning MR's statement of principle in Dick Bentley Productions Ltd v Harold Smith (Motors) LtdWLR[1965] 1 WLR 623 to the effect that if a representation was made in the course of dealings for a contract to induce the other party to act upon it, and actual......
  • Representation and Warranty
    • Canada
    • Irwin Books The Law of Contracts. Third Edition Performance and Breach
    • 4 August 2020
    ...the test for warranty appears to be that in circumstances where the representor has expertise or privileged access to information 11 [1965] 1 WLR 623 (CA) [ Dick Bentley ]. 12 Ibid at 627. 13 See Chapter 10, Section B. 14 [1957] 1 WLR 370 (CA). THE LAW OF CONTR ACTS 790 not possessed by the......

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