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Products Liability Notes

Irish BCL Notes > Irish Tort Law Notes

This is an extract of our Products Liability document, which we sell as part of our Irish Tort Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Trinity College Dublin students.

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Products Liability

Corry v Lucas (CP 1868) Facts

1. The plaintiff was killed by an exploding boiler that had been sold to his employer and guaranteed to be a first class job. IssueProducts Liability

Judgment (Monahan CJ)
? The plaintiff did not use the boiler on the faith of the guarantee - he was not even aware of it.
? Winterbottom v Wright followed - in the case of things not dangerous in themselves, the defendants could only be liable if they fraudulently represented to the plaintiff that the item was safe.

McPherson v Buick Motor Company (NY CA 1916) Facts

1. The plaintiff was injured when his car, which was manufactured by the defendants, collapsed due to a negligently constructed wheel. IssueProducts Liability

Judgment (Cardozo J)
? Manufacturers are responsible for damage caused by dangerous products - if something is certain to cause injury if it is negligently manufactured then it is a dangerous thing.
? The risk of danger must probable, not merely possible.

Donoghue v Stevenson (HoL 1932) Facts

1. The plaintiff suffered gastro-enteritis after drinking from an opaque ginger beer bottle which contained the decomposed remains of a snail. IssueProducts Liability - Duty of Care


1. Lord Buckmaster (dissented)

2. Lord Atkin
? A manufacturer of products which A) he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him B) with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination and with C) the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumer's life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care.

3. Lord Macmillan
? The manufacture in making his products for human consumption, takes on a duty of care to ensure that the people who consume his products suffer no injury as a result.

4. Lord Thankerton
? The manufacturer's actions brought him into a direct relationship with the injured party which created a duty of care.

5. Lord Tomlin

Kirby v Burke & Holloway (HC 1944) Facts

1. The plaintiff ate jam that had been contaminated and thus suffered an attack of gastroenteritis. IssueProducts Liability - Duty of Care

Judgment (Gavan Duffy P)
? As the Irish authorities on this subject are in complete conflict, this case must be decided on first principles.
? The Law of Torts is based on the standards of the reasonable man.
? A reasonable man in the position of the defendant, making jam for the public to eat, would take certain specific precautions to make sure that it is safe.
? Thus the manufacturer has such a duty.
? Considering the division in Donoghue v Stevenson, it is not a reliable guide to the law in Ireland - however as it is supported by other ex-judicial writings it can be relied upon.

Power v Bedford Motor Company (SC 1959) Facts

1. The plaintiff bought a car from the second defendants and injured himself due to a defect in the steering.

2. The car had been subject to negligent maintenance by both defendants.

3. Both the first and second defendants had at one stage or another been requested to fix the steering. IssueLiability for negligent repair - whether duty owed


1. Maguire CJ (concurred with Lavery J)

2. Lavery J
? This case should be decided on the Donoghue v Stevenson principles of negligence - although at the time the law was unsettled it can now be regarded as being settled.
? The liability of repairers for defective work under this principle has been recognised by the courts.
? The deceased belonged to the class of persons that the repairer should have contemplated would be injured in the case of negligent work.
? The duty would exist within the period of time that could reasonably be expected to lapse before the car would be maintained again.
? Thus the defendants are liable.

3. O'Daly J (concurred with Lavery J)

4. MaguireJ (concurred with Lavery J)

5. Kinsmill Moore J

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