In Alchemy Metals Ltd v CAV Aerospace Ltd – Butterworths Law Direct 1.2.08 the Claimant was concerned in the purchasing of non-ferrous scrap metal for the purposes of selling to foundries or merchants. The Defendant produced components for the aviation industry. The parties entered into a written contract (the agreement) for the provision of aluminium. The Claimant's interpretation of the agreement was that the prices paid should follow the Metal Bulletin (Bulletin) and the London Metal Exchange prices (LME), but not be tied to either rigidly. The Defendant's interpretation of the agreement was that the price would vary only in line with changes in the Bulletin's price. The Bulletin published market prices which indicated a price increase. The Defendant notified the Claimant that it would have to pay the increased price, and a dispute as to the price under the contract then arose. The Defendant subsequently notified the Claimant that it had had a sufficient amount of time to pay the difference, and that it was of the opinion that the Claimant was in breach and had, accordingly repudiated the agreement.
The Queen’s Bench court held that, on the proper construction of the contract, the appropriate comparator was the Bulletin. The Claimant's interpretation of the price had been incorrect and it had not been making the required payments under the contract. There had therefore been sufficient grounds for the Defendant to have treated the contract as repudiated.