What is misrepresentation in law?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Misrepresentation is a legal term that is connected to the law of contracts. Misrepresentation occurs when one party makes a false statement that causes the other party to enter into a contract.  The misrepresentation must be made knowingly or negligently and it must be relevant.

What this means is that there are three criteria that must be met in order for a statement to be a misrepresentation.  First, the statement must be false.  A true statement cannot be a misrepresentation.  Second, the person making the statement must know that the statement is false or the person must make the statement recklessly, without making an appropriate effort to know whether it is true.  In other words, if I make a statement that I believe to be true, I cannot be liable for misrepresentation because I really thought I was telling the truth.  Finally, the statement must be relevant to the contract.  For example, if I sell someone a car on Thursday and I accidentally state that the sale was on Friday, there is probably no harm.  My stating that it is Friday does not induce the other person to buy the car.

A misrepresentation, then, is a statement that a) is false, b) is made by someone who knows or should know that it is false, and c) is relevant in causing someone to enter into a contract.

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