Mistake Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Mistake, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Mistake?

(n) Mistake is the wrong acceptance of the meaning of a word, statement, facts, law etc by a misinterpretation of its meaning, oversight, confusion, incapability etc . Occurrence of a mistake can be corrected later by the parties involved as mistake cannot be treated as the intention, the essence of any dealing.

History and Meaning of Mistake

Mistake is a fundamental legal concept. Mistake can be defined as a misunderstanding, misconception, or misinterpretation of a situation or fact. In the context of contracts or transactional legal relationships, a mistake can render an agreement void, voidable, or unenforceable.

Mistakes can be classified into various categories such as unilateral mistake, mutual mistake, mistake of fact, or mistake of law. Unilateral mistake refers to situations when one party is mistaken about an element of the contract. Mutual mistake, on the other hand, refers to situations when both contracting parties are mistaken about an element of the contract.

Examples of Mistake

  1. A classic example of a unilateral mistake is when a person sells a valuable artwork at a garage sale without realizing the true value of the art piece. The buyer takes advantage of the seller's mistake and makes a significant profit by selling the artwork at its true value.

  2. In the context of a mutual mistake, suppose two parties agree to enter into a contract to exchange $100 for a box of apples. Both parties are unaware that the box of apples was stolen. Since both parties made a mistake, the contract will be rendered null and void.

  3. A mistake of fact occurs when one party holds a belief or understanding about a fact in a transaction that is not accurate. For example, suppose a person purchases what they believe is an antique vase for $500, while the seller was mistaken in believing it was authentic. The buyer discovers that the vase is a replica and demands their money back.

Legal Terms Similar to Mistake

  1. Duress - When a person is subjected to force or coercion to act against their will.
  2. Fraud - When a party induces another party to act based on a false statement, thereby causing harm or loss.
  3. Misrepresentation - When a person makes a statement that is untrue or misleading.