“Mistake” in Government Contracts

Government Contracts Insights

29 Jul 2019

Everyone knows that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” But what about ignorance of the facts? In Woodies Holdings, L.L.C. v. United States, the Court of Federal Claims recently rejected a Government defense against a contractor claim and an affirmative counter-claim based on the Government’s alleged unilateral mistake of fact. In this post we’ll take a look at that decision and discuss the particular challenges posed by an argument that one party’s mistaken understanding of facts should lead a court to alter the unambiguous terms of the parties’ contract. We’ll also note a special procedural hurdle one must clear before being able to raise this argument in an appeal covered by the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (CDA).

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