In that case the lease between the parties contained the following provision:
The tenant may by serving not less than six months' notice in writing on the landlord or its solicitors such notice to expire on the third anniversary of the term commencement date determine this lease and upon the expiry of such notice this lease shall cease and determine and have no further effect…"
The third anniversary was 13 January 1995 but the break notice served by the tenant incorrectly used 12 January 1995 as the relevant date. The question was whether, notwithstanding the mistake in the break notice it was still effective to terminate the lease.
By a majority, the House of Lords held that it was effective and in doing so essentially established a firm principle that errors in a contract can be ignored or corrected in a process of construction if it is obvious to the informed reader what the entire contract means on a whole reading of it and considering the background. Lord Hoffmann compares the situation to one in everyday speech saying:
"If one meets an acquaintance and he says "And how is Mary?" it may be obvious that he is referring to one's wife, even if she is in fact called Jane. One may even, to avoid embarrassment, answer "Very well, thank you" without drawing attention to his mistake. The message has been unambiguously received and understood".