Notes and questions 1 The two causes of action, namely, that for debt or money due under the contract and that for damages for breach of contract, are quite different…’ (Davies LJ in Overstone Ltd v Shipway [1962] 1 WLR 117, p 129). Does this mean that if the plaintiff in White & Carter had lost his debt claim he could, at a later date, have brought a quite separate damages action? 2 Might it be an abuse of a right to sue in debt rather than damages? Does equity have a doctrine of abuse of rights? Does the common law? What about EU law? 3 What is meant by legitimate interest’ in this context?
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This was an action for debt brought by the owners of a ship against the hirers of the vessel. The hirers were under a contractual duty to redeliver the ship in good repair, but, owing to engine trouble, it transpired that to put the ship in good repair would cost over twice its actual value. The hirers accordingly tried to redeliver the ship without the full repairs being done. The owners refused to accept redelivery and were thus claiming the hire fees for the whole period during which the ship remained unrepaired. The Court of Appeal held that the owners ought to have accepted redelivery and thus were not entitled to sue in debt. They were entitled only to damages.