Case Law Update: Serving notice to terminate? Get it right!

One might be forgiven for thinking that if your contract provides for termination by giving notice by hand-delivery or post, that email and DX would do? Not so , as this recent case shows.

The contract between the parties provided for notices to be hand-delivered or sent by post or recorded delivery. Notice was given using email and the DX. The court held that notice had not been properly served, meaning that a warranty could not be enforced.

The case? Hoe International Ltd v Anderson & Aykroyd [2016] CSOH 33

The lessons? When serving notice under a contract, get it right ! Follow the contract wording to the letter, unless you want to deal with a property dispute solicitor.

Minor defects may not always invalidate the notice, if they would not confuse a reasonable recipient who knew the background (Mannai Investment Co Ltd v Eagle Star Life Assurance Co Ltd [1999] AC 749 (HL)).

But this does not save all defective notices. In Friends Life Ltd v Siemens Hearing Instruments Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 382,  In this case, the contract required the notice to include a particular statement, which was omitted in the notice served. The Court of Appeal held that a valid notice must comply with the express requirement , so the notice served had no effect.

The sellers argued the buyer could not enforce the warranty because the notice had not been properly given in accordance with the agreement. The court agreed that the notice had not been validly served and the buyer could not claim under the warranty.