Differences Between Condition and Warranty

Difference between condition and warranty: Where the terms of a contract has been established, it still remains to be determined what importance is to be attached to the various terms of the contract. In this connection, the court have traditionally classified the terms of the contract, whether express or implied, into two categories, viz Conditions and warranties.

In later development, however, the courts has given rise to two additional classifications viz: innominate or intermediate terms and fundamental terms. The distinction, however, between the various classifications is sometimes impossible to make. Accordingly, it is better to concentrate on the two traditional classifications, that is, conditions and warranties.

differences between condition and warranty
differences between condition and warranty

Also read: Characteristics of a valid and binding contract

One reason for this, apart from the difficulty of distinguishing between the various classifications, is that the effects of a breach of innominate/fundamental term. There is only one exception and that is if a fundamental term is broken, the innocent party will in addition to the remedies open for a breach of condition prevent the guilty from relying on any exclusion clause in the contract.

Differences between conditions and warranties

A Condition is a term of major importance which forms the main basis of a contract. If a condition is broken, the effect is to give the aggrieved party a right at his option to repudiate the contract and treat it as at end. Note that he is not bound to repudiate the contract, he may instead affirm it. But in either event he also has a right to claim damages for breach.

On the other hand, a warranty is a term of minor importance, the breach of which gives the aggrieved party a risk to damages only. Lastly, a fundamental term approximates to a condition and its breach gives the same effect.

From the above definitions it is clear that the difference between a condition and warranty is that, while a condition goes to the crux of the contract and its breach gives the aggrieved party a right to repudiate the contract, a Warranty is a less important term of the contract and the aggrieved party can only claim damages.

Also read: Exceptions to privity of contract rule

The general statement of available remedies, however, requires one qualification: once the contract is executed, that is to say, substantially entered upon, a condition become ex post facto a warranty. This means that it is treated as if it were a warranty and it’s breach gives rise only to a claim in damages.

The above definitions of a condition and warranty and the rule concerning the treatment of a condition as expost facto a warranty have also been statutorily enacted in relation to contract under the sales of goods act.

Also, in deciding whether a term is a condition or a warranty, the court have regard to the intention of the parties themselves as gathered either from statement which they may make as to the comparative importance of the term in question or from the general tenor of the contract as a whole.

Two cases are used to illustrate this point. In poussard v spires and pond [1876] 1 QB 410, an actress was engaged to play a leading role in an opera as from the first night of the performance. Owning to illness, she was unable to take part until one week after the opera has started. For this reason, the producers of the opera were forced to engage a substitute and to refuse her service.

She brought an action for breach of contract and it was held that the provision in the contract requiring her to take part from the first night of the performance was a condition and that its breach entitled the producers to repudiate the contract and treat is as at end.

What are the differences between condition and warranty in contract law? See the meaning and difference between condition and warranty.
What are the differences between condition and warranty in contract law? See the meaning and difference between condition and warranty.

The above case is contrasted with the case of Bettini v Gye [1876] 1 QBD 183, where a singer was engaged for the whole of the season both in theaters and at concerts. The singer was undertook in the contract to appear for rehearsals six days before the engagement began. He took ill and arrived only three days in advance and the defendant would not accept his service, treating the contract as discharged. The court held that the rehearsal was a term of minor importance. It is breach amounting to a breach of Warranty and did not entitle the defendant to repudiate the contract.

Also read: Exceptions to the rule in Adams v Lindsell

So far, i have explained the meaning and difference between condition and warranty. In addition to that, I that used two leading cases in contract law to discuss these two terms and how they are considered in the court. I believe this article has really done justice to the topic. However, if you have any question or contribution to make, kindly drop it at the comment section below.

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