Thursday, March 17, 2016

Unilateral Mistake: An Equitable Exception to Contract Enforcement

Can I get out of a contract that I entered into by mistake?

Generally, under Texas law, if the other party did not enter into the contract based upon the same mistake (i.e., both parties made the same mistake or mutual mistake) a party cannot avoid its contractual obligations even though it entered into a contract based upon its own mistake.  Texas law, does however, recognize an equitable exception to this general principle. “[E]quitable relief will be granted against a unilateral mistake when the conditions of remediable mistake are present. These conditions generally are: (1) the mistake is of so great a consequence that to enforce the contract as made would be unconscionable; (2) the mistake relates to a material feature of the contract; (3) the mistake must have been made regardless of the exercise of ordinary care; and (4) the parties can be placed in status quo in the equity sense, i. e., rescission must not result in prejudice to the other party except for the loss of his bargain. There may be other circumstances which will govern or influence the extension of relief, such as the acts and extent of knowledge of the parties.” James T. Taylor & Son, Inc. v. Arlington Indep. Sch. Dist., 335 S.W.2d 371, 373 (Tex. 1960).

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