Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-846f6c7c4f-k2x4h Total loading time: 0.328 Render date: 2022-07-06T17:55:22.874Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Mistake, Failure of Consideration and the Planning Theory of Intention

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 February 2015

Get access

Abstract

Recovery of mistaken payments in the law of restitution is often justified by reference to a vitiated intention and that of payments where there is a failure of consideration by reference to a qualified intention. This paper aims to investigate whether this is a misleading characterisation and suggests that both causes of action should be understood in terms of conditions affecting our intentions. Specifically we should look at the failure of our planning agency, and Michael Bratman’s theory of agency in particular. In cases of mistaken payments we should look at the failure of a background condition to the payment. In such cases to fail to allow recovery is to fail to respect me as an autonomous actor, acting under norms having agential authority for me. In failure of consideration cases the autonomy of the other party is at stake, but we can take this into account by positing not a failure of a condition affecting personal intention, but affecting collective intention. There are different views on what collective intention is and how it should be understood, which may themselves have different implications in terms of the concurrency of mistake and failure of consideration as unjust factors. The paper examines different ways in which collective intentions might fail and how they fit the failure of consideration paradigm.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

This paper was presented at the Restitution section of the SLS Conference at Edinburgh University in September 2013. Many thanks to those who contributed to the discussion and to Charles Mitchell, Fred Wilmot-Smith and Steve Smith for their kind comments on earlier drafts. Thanks also to the Editor and CJLJ referee for observations and suggestions. All remaining errors are my own.

References

1. Duress and undue influence for example are probably not based on the effect of conditional intention, but on improper influence on the claimant’s practical reasoning.

2. Gregory Klass, ‘A Conditional Intent to Perform’ (2009) 15 Legal Theory 107 at 109-10; Klass discusses other theories and their shortcomings at 112-16.

3. Mitchell McInnes, “The Reason to Reverse: Unjust Factors and Juristic Reasons” (2012) 92 BUL Rev 1049.

4. It is possible for a collective intention to involve three or even more people. A soccer team or section of the team (strikers and midfielders perhaps) might form a collective intention to mount an attack and try to score a goal, but this will probably involve more than two players. For our purposes we will stick to two person collective intentions.

5. Nair, Aruna, “‘Mistakes of Law’ and Legal Reasoning: Interpreting Kleinwort Benson v Lincoln City Council” in Chambers, Robert, Mitchell, Charles & Penner, James, eds, Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Unjust Enrichment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 373 at 389.

6. Duncan Sheehan, “What is a Mistake?” (2000) 20:4 LS 538 [Sheehan, “Mistake”].

7. Donald Davidson, “Actions, Reasons and Causes” in Donald Davidson, ed, Essays on Actions and Events (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) 3; this could be described as the standard story, see Luca Ferrero, “Action” in John Shand, ed, Central Issues in Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009) 137; see also George Wilson & Samuel Shpall, “Action”, online: (Summer 2012) in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Edward N Zalta at 2, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/action.

8. See also Kieran Setiya “Intention”, online: (Spring 2014) in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Edward N Zalta at 1, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intention.

9. But see Audi, Robert, Practical Reasoning (London: Routledge, 1989) at 123–25.

10. Bratman, Michael, Intention Plans and Practical Reason (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987) at 4 [Bratman, Intention Plans].

11. Michael Bratman, “Intention Rationality” (2009) 12 Philosophical Explorations 227 at 228.

12. JPW Cartwright, “Conditional Intentions” (1990) 60 Philosophical Studies 233; Bratman, Michael, “Davidson’s Theory of Intention” in Bratman, Michael, ed, Faces of Intention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) at 209.

13. Michael Bratman, “The Two Faces of Intention” (1984) 93 Philosophical Rev 375 at 378 [Bratman, “Two Faces of Intention”].

14. Ibid at 377-78; see also Setiya, supra note 8 at 6.

15. Bratman, “Two Faces of Intention”, supra note 13 at 381-83.

16. Ibid at 383; Bratman, Intention Plans, supra note 10 at ch 8.

17. See generally Birke Häcker, “Proprietary Restitution in Impaired Consent Transfers: A Generalised Power Model” [2009] Cambridge LJ 324.

18. R v Ashwell (1885), 16 QBD 190; Moffatt v Kazana, [1969] 2 QB 159.

19. [2013] UKSC 26, [2013] 2 AC 156 (sub nom Futter v HM Revenue and Customs) [Pitt].

20. Ibid at para 122.

21. Michael Bratman, “Intention and Means End Coherence” (1981) 90 Philosophical Rev 252.

22. Bratman, Intention Plans, supra note 10 at 31.

23. Luca Ferrero, “Conditional Intentions” (2009) 43:4 Noûs 700 at 711-12.

24. Bratman, “Two Faces of Intention”, supra note 13 at 380-81; Bratman, Intention Plans, supra note 10 at 38.

25. Bratman, Intention Plans, supra note 10 at 134-35; Michael Bratman, “Modest Sociality and the Distinctiveness of Intention” (2009) 144 Philosophical Studies 139 at 153.

26. Michael Bratman, “Two Problems in Human Agency” (2001) 101 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 309 at 311 [Bratman, “Two Problems”].

27. Michael Bratman, “Valuing and the Will” (2000) 14 Philosophical Perspectives 249 at 258 [Bratman, “Valuing”].

28. Michael Bratman, “Reflection, Planning and Temporally Extended Agency” (2000) 109 Philosophical Rev 35.

29. Bratman, “Valuing”, supra note 27 at 258-59.

30. Bratman, “Two Problems”, supra note 26 at 319-20.

31. Bratman, Michael, “Introduction” in Bratman, Michael, ed, Structures of Agency (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) 1 at 6.

32. John Locke, An Essay on Human Understanding (1690) book II, ch xxvii at para 9.

33. Bratman, “Valuing”, supra note 27 at 256.

34. Ibid at 258-59.

35. Ibid at 255.

36. Bratman, Michael, “Anchors for Deliberation” in Lumer, Christoph & Nannini, Sandro, eds, Intentionality, Deliberation and Autonomy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007) 187.

37. Allcard v Skinner (1876), 36 ChD 145 seems to be a case of the claimant’s being in the grip of a norm, that being obedience to the mother superior.

38. Cartwright, supra note 12 at 235.

39. Ibid at 236-37; on conditional intentions see also Michael Bratman, “Simple Intentions” (1979) 36 Philosophical Studies 245.

40. Ferrero, “Conditional Intentions”, supra note 23 at 700.

41. Ibid at 726-31.

42. Ibid at 726.

43. Cartwright, supra note 12 at 239-41; Davidson, Donald, “Intending” in Davidson, Donald, ed, Actions and Events (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984) 83 at 94.

44. Cartwright, supra note 12 at 242.

45. Ferrero, “Conditional Intentions”, supra note 23 at 702.

46. Ibid at 721.

47. Ibid at 724.

48. Ibid at 711-14.

49. Klass, supra note 2 at 109-10.

50. Ferrero, “Conditional Intentions”, supra note 23 at 709.

51. Ibid at 710.

52. Ibid at 720.

53. Bratman, Michael, “Practical Reasoning and Acceptance in a Context” in Bratman, Michael, ed, Faces of Intention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 15.

54. Assuming that I do not discover that in fact I do not owe the money after all, as posited in the previous section.

55. Virgo, Graham, The Principles of the Law of Restitution, 2nd ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) at 137 [Virgo, Principles of Restitution].

56. Webb, Charlie, “Intention, Mistake and Resulting Trusts” in Mitchell, Charles, ed, Constructive and Resulting Trusts (Oxford: Hart, 2010) 315 at 323–24.

57. Nair, supra note 5 at 389.

58. Ibid at 389.

59. [1980] QB 680.

60. Webb, supra note 56.

61. See, e.g., D Klimchuk, “The Scope and Structure of Unjust Enrichment” (2007) 57 UTLJ 795 at 799.

62. Sheehan, “Mistake”, supra note 6 at 552-65.

63. Nair, supra note 5 at 389-91.

64. Virgo, Principles of Restitution, supra note 55 at 150-51, discussing Larner v LCC [1949] 2 KB 683.

65. Ronald Dworkin, “Objectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe It” (1996) 25 Phil & Pub Affairs 87; Dworkin, Ronald, Justice for Hedgehogs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011) at ch 2 [Dworkin, Justice].

66. Dworkin, Justice, ibid at 407.

67. Ibid at 125.

68. Velleman, J David, Self to Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) at 214.

69. One might object that not acting increases our self-knowledge in another way, but assuming we do not act akratically, not acting and doing something else instead increases self-knowledge through the change of mind and the new prediction to act in a given way which is then followed through.

70. Criticised by Michael Bratman, “Cognitivism about Practical Reason” (1991) 102 Ethics 117, but see Gideon Yaffe, “Velleman on Intentions as Reasons for Action” (1995) 55 Analysis 107.

71. Luca Ferrero, “What Good is a Diachronic Will?” (2009) 144 Philosophical Studies 403 [Ferrero, “Diachronic Will”].

72. Ibid at 406.

73. Ibid at 408.

74. Ibid at 416.

75. Ibid at 416-19; see also Luca Ferrero, “Decisions, Diachronic Autonomy and the Division of Deliberative Labour” (2010) 10 Philosopher’s Imprint 1.

76. Bratman, Michael, “Intention, Belief, Practical, Theoretical” in Robertson, Simon, ed, Spheres of Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) 29 at 51–52.

77. Ferrero, “Diachronic Will”, supra note 71 at 410.

78. Ibid at 410-11.

79. Ibid at 419.

80. Ibid at 419-20.

81. Pitt, supra note 19.

82. [2008] EWHC 118, [2009] Ch 162.

83. Ibid at 171.

84. [2011] EWCA Civ 197 at para 198, a paragraph discussed approvingly in the Supreme Court in Pitt, supra note 19 at para 110; for further case law denying relief for mispredictions see Barder v Barder, [1986] 3 WLR 145 (CA); Dextra Bank v Bank of Jamaica, [2002] 1 All ER (Comm) 602 (PC).

85. (1912) 81 LJ Reports King’s Bench Old Series 465 (HL (Eng)); Virgo, Principles of Restitution, supra note 55 at 149-50.

86. Weeliem Seah, “Mispredictions, Mistakes and the Law of Unjust Enrichment” [2007] RLR 93 at 103-05; Virgo, Graham, “Demolishing the Pyramid: The Presence of Basis and Risk-Taking in the Law of Unjust Enrichment” in Robertson, Andrew & Wu, Tang Hang, eds, The Goals of Private Law (Hart: Oxford, 2011) 477 at 504; Stephen Donald Architects Ltd v King, [2003] EWHC 1867; Countrywide Communications v ICL Pathway Ltd, [2000] CLC 324; Regalian Properties Ltd v LDDC, [1995] 1 WLR 212; Pitt, supra note 19.

87. Virgo, Principles of Restitution, supra note 55 at 162-64.

88. Paul Davies, “Risk in Unjust Enrichment” [2012] RLR 58 at 60-61; James Goodwin, “Failure of Basis in the Contractual Context” [2013] RLR 24 at 30 has a similar example about a car washer. Cf Fred Wilmot-Smith, “Replacing Risk-Taking Reasoning” (2011) 127 Law Q Rev 610 at 613 arguing risk is circular, discussed by Goodwin at 31-32.

89. This is Bratman’s example in Michael Bratman, “Temptation and the Agent’s Standpoint” (2014) 57:3 Inquiry 293.

90. This is Searle’s example discussed in Abraham Sesshu Roth, “Shared Agency”, online: (Spring 2011) in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Edward N Zalta at 2, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/shared-agency/.

91. See, e.g., Margaret Gilbert, “Shared Intentions and Personal Intentions” (2009) 144 Philosophical Studies 167 [Gilbert, “Shared Intentions”]; discussed in Michael Bratman, Shared Agency (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) at 113-18.

92. Bratman, Michael, “I intend that we J” in Bratman, Michael, ed, Faces of Intention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 142.

93. Gilbert, “Shared Intentions”, supra note 91 at 180.

94. Bratman, Michael, “Shared Agency” in Mantzavinos, Christostomos, ed, Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) 41 at 42.

95. Ibid at 52; a slightly more complex version is found in Bratman, Shared Agency, supra note 91 at 84.

96. Roth, “Shared Agency”, supra note 90; Roth has sympathy with the normative requirements of consistency etc, but does not support the bridge intention account.

97. Bratman, Shared Agency, supra note 91 at 64-66.

98. Ibid at 79-83.

99. Abraham Sesshu Roth, “Shared Agency and Contralateral Commitments” (2004) 113 Philosophical Rev 359 at 378-80.

100. Bratman, Shared Agency, supra note 91 at 74-75.

101. This is Alonso’s example. See Facundo Alonso, “Shared Intention, Reliance and Interpersonal Obligations” (2009) 119 Ethics 444 at 452-53.

102. Bratman, Shared Agency, supra note 91 at 72.

103. Raimo Tuomela, “Collective and Joint Intention” (2000) 1:2 Mind and Society 39 at 55.

104. Ibid at 57.

105. Ibid at 62.

106. Michael Bratman, “Dynamics of Sociality” (2006) 30:1 Midwest Studies in Philosophy 1 at 10-12.

107. Ibid at 6. See Thomas Scanlon, “Promises and Practices” (1990) 19 Philosophy & Public Affairs 199 at 208; see for discussion Margaret Gilbert, “In Search of Sociality” (1998) 1 Philosophical Explorations 233.

108. Dori Kimel, From Promise to Contract (Oxford: Hart, 2005) at 65.

109. Randy Barnett, “A Consent Theory of Contract” (1986) 106 Colum L Rev 269.

110. Bratman, Shared Agency, supra note 91 at 34.

111. [1924] 1 Ch 97 [Chillingworth].

112. [2013] UKSC 50, [2013] 3 WLR 351.

113. [2010] EWCA Civ 1427 at para 3; performance, as it actually turned out, was described as a “radically different” arrangement by Lord Clarke at [2013] UKSC 50 at para 42, [2013] 3 WLR 351. The Supreme Court in fact reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal but only on the issue of quantum of relief; for comment see Mitchell McInnes, “The Nature of Restitutionary Enrichments” (2014) 130 Law Q Rev 8.

114. Thomas v Brown (1876), 1 QBD 714.

115. Ferrero, “Conditional Intentions”, supra note 23 at 726.

116. Klass, supra note 2 at 133.

117. Ibid at 138.

118. [1999] 2 AC 349 (HL (Eng)); a swap is a contract where we pretend there is a notional capital sum lent by each party to the other. A pays a variable rate of interest to B, and B a fixed rate to A for an agreed period.

119. Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington LBC [1996] AC 669 (failure of consideration); Kleinwort Benson v Lincoln City Council [1999] 2 AC 349 (mistake).

120. Edelman, James, “Liability in Unjust Enrichment when an Anticipated Contract Fails to Materialize” in Burrows, Andrew & Peel, Ed, eds, Contract Formation and Parties (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) 159 at 171.

121. [2002] 1 All ER (Comm) 193.

122. Edelman, supra note 120 at 177-78.

123. Elise Bant & Peter Creighton, “Mistake of Fact and Change of Position: Sound Advice from the Privy Council” (2002) 2 OUCLJ 271.

124. (1863), 2 H&C 906, 156 ER 375.

125. Felicity Maher, “A New Conception of Failure of Basis” [2004] RLR 98 at 108-09.

126. [1993] AC 70.

127. Chambers, Robert, “Resulting Trusts” in Burrows, Andrew & Rodger, Alan, eds, Mapping the Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) 246.

128. [1967] 2 AC 291 (HL (Eng)) [Vandervell].

129. Sheehan, Duncan, The Principles of Personal Property Law (Oxford: Hart, 2011) at 188–89.

130. Duncan Sheehan, “Resulting Trusts, Sine Causa and the Structure of Proprietary Restitution” (2011) 11 OUCLJ 1 at 24 [Sheehan, “Resulting Trusts”].

131. Virgo, Graham, The Principles of Equity and Trusts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) at 394.

132. In England under the Trustee Act, 1925 (UK), 15&16 Geo V c 19 s 41.

133. Essery v Cowlard (1884), 26 Ch D 191; Sheehan, “Resulting Trusts”, supra note 130 at 25.

134. Edwin Cameron, ed, Honoré’s South African Law of Trusts 5th ed (Cape Town: Juta, 2002) at 128-29.

135. (1884) 26 Ch 191.

136. Sheehan, “Resulting Trusts”, supra note 130 at 24.

1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Mistake, Failure of Consideration and the Planning Theory of Intention
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Mistake, Failure of Consideration and the Planning Theory of Intention
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Mistake, Failure of Consideration and the Planning Theory of Intention
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *