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Reformation

mistake instrument parties agreement

A remedy utilized by the courts to correct a written instrument so that it conforms to the ORIGINAL INTENT of the parties to such an instrument.

Legal documents, such as contracts, deeds, mortgages, and trusts, are all proper subjects for reformation. Since the original intent of the parties must control, however, a totally new agreement cannot be created through reformation.

The court, in the exercise of its EQUITY powers to do justice, will reform a document only in the event that FRAUD or mutual mistake occurred in its execution.

Reformation is a remedy that is granted at the discretion of the court only where the facts and circumstances of a particular case warrant it. It will not be granted where an entirely new agreement would result between the parties or where unwarranted hardships would be imposed upon them. Only an individual who has acted in GOOD FAITH can apply to the court to have an instrument reformed.

Reformation is not available as a remedy to correct every minor error, such as typographical errors; rather, it is granted where there has been a mutual mistake that substantially affects the parties' rights and obligations. The mistake must have been in existence at the time the instrument was drawn up. A mistake in the description of land and its boundaries ordinarily justifies reformation of an agreement where the purchaser and seller intended that all the seller's property be sold to the purchaser. In addition, a MISTAKE OF LAW by which both parties to the instrument have incorrectly comprehended the legal effect of the facts and the document might also result in reformation.

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