Summary of Boston deep sea fishing Co v Fareham case

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Boston deep sea fishing Co v Fareham

Principle: Illustration that principal must have CAPACITY to enter into the contract, both at the time of the transaction itself AND at the date of ratification.
I.e. the principal must himself have been LEGALLY CAPABLE of doing the act.

Summary of Facts: Here, tax case – British people acted as agents for French owners of fishing vessels – during WW2 continued relationship but couldn’t communicate with French owners.

Q: Did they have to pay tax on the profits?  Relevant tax statute said yes IF they were carrying on a “regular agency”.

Judgment: not carrying a “regular agency”. French owners, although they had impliedly ratified the activities of the English agents, were “enemy aliens” during the war for the purposes of private law matters – thus they lacked capacity to ratify the English agents’ activities.

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