Wine Bar Meeting Did Not Result in Binding Contract, Court Rules

barMany very large commercial contracts are agreed orally, never making their way into writing, and the question of when a deal is ‘closed’ can thus be of crucial importance. In one case, the High Court analysed exactly what was said during a meeting at a City wine bar in order to determine whether a valid contract had been concluded.

A financial broking company was considering appointing consultants to provide risk management, legal, operational and compliance services. The consultants argued that a two-year deal had been concluded during the wine bar meeting. However, the company argued that those who attended were ‘just chewing the fat’.

After hearing oral evidence from those who were there at the time, the Court found that, although agreement on all important heads of terms had been achieved, no legally binding agreement had been reached. At no point had those at the meeting contemplated that a contract would be entered into orally.