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Assertions of Intention

15 January, 2016 - 09:32

Usually, assertions of intention are not considered facts. The law allows considerable leeway in the honesty of assertions of intention. The Restatement talks in terms of “a misrepresentation of intention…consistent with reasonable standards of fair dealing.” 1The right to misstate intentions is useful chiefly in the acquisition of land; the cases permit buyers to misrepresent the purpose of the acquisition so as not to arouse the suspicion of the seller that the land is worth considerably more than his asking price. To be a misrepresentation that will permit rescission, an assertion of intention must be false at the time made; that is, the person asserting an intention must not then have intended it. That later he or she does not carry out the stated intention is not proof that there was no intention at the time asserted. Moreover, to render a contract voidable, the false assertion of intention must be harmful in some way to other interests of the recipient. Thus, in the common example, the buyer of land tells the seller that he intends to build a residence on the lot, but he actually intends to put up a factory and has lied because he knows that otherwise the seller will not part with it because her own home is on an adjacent lot. The contract is voidable by the seller. So a developer says, as regards the picturesque old barn on the property, “I’ll sure try to save it,” but after he buys the land he realizes it would be very expensive (and in the way), so he does not try to save it. No misrepresentation.