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A misleading or inaccurate physical or legal description of property in a contract for its sale. When a vendor cannot convey property corresponding to its description in the contract for sale, a breach of contract results, which at the very least gives the purchaser a right to damages.

If the misdescription is substantial (i.e. it is reasonable to suppose that it constitutes the basis for the purchaser entering into the contract in the first place), the vendor will be unable to enforce the contract against the purchaser. When there is an innocent misdescription, which is not substantial, the contract may be enforced by the vendor, but subject to a suitable reduction in the contractually agreed price, even if the purchaser would prefer to rescind the contract (see rescission). Alternatively, the purchaser might prefer to compel the vendor to convey what title he can (despite the misdescription) and receive compensation in addition. If the misdescription operates in the purchaser's favour, the vendor has no right to claim any compensation from him.

Under the Property Misdescription Act 1991, estate agents and property developers are prohibited from making false or misleading statements about property in the course of their business. Misdescription in this case relates to what purports to be fact and not to mere expressions of opinion. Compare misrepresentation.

Subjects: Law.

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