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Nominate Torts Product Liability Notes

BCL Law Notes > Tort Law: Nominate Torts Notes

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HISTORICAL POSITIONStems exclusively from Donoghue v Stevenson
Prior to this, liability for defective products was governed by contract
No remedy under tort law
No privity, no recovery

Winterbottom v Wright 1842
Coachman injured when coach broke down. D contractually obliged to maintain coach.
- No liability as there was no contract

Donoghue v Stevenson
"a manufacturer of products, which 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 with no possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation and putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumers' life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care"
- Producer liable to the ultimate consumer for damage to life or property


• Developed quite significantly

• Broad range of issues

DvS - café owner could be manufacturer
- Can be other people in the distribution change that can be liable
So, must consider the chain of distribution and the processes REPAIRER

• Has he repair caused the damage

• If they have not spotted the defect > is it reasonable to hold them to this.

• Causation very important here

Power v Bradford Motor Co.
Garage negligently repaired P's steering wheel and left it in a bad state.
Reasonable to expect them to spot this.
- Repairer = manufacturer

P lost eye after lawnmower ejected a stone due to a negligent repair.
- No liability on repairer because accident due to design defect that reasonable repair could not have discovered.


Brown v Cotterill
Headstone fell apart and the mason who erected it was liable to granddaughter.
- Duty owed to 'every member of the public'
Unusual > remoteness of damage is quite broad.
Occupiers liability?

Keegan v Owens
Supplier of swing boats owed a duty of care to a person operating boats at a carnival

• Duty to purchasers and any person foreseeably injured by the product

• STORAGE and OUTDATED liability. • You can't really hold the retailer liable for defect of ingredients or what it contains etc…their responsibility is after it has been packaged
- When does the responsibility switch?

Ryan v Dan Dooley Rent a car
Vehicle was habitually cut out. Who is liable? Court:
- Retailer liable in contract and manufacturer liable in negligence
Duffy v Rooney and Dunnes Stores
Raincoat which was flammable. Caught fire and caused burn to child. It didn't have a flammable warning. Retailer liable for the failure to attach a warning.
Laffoy J - different position
Said both of them owed the same duty.
- Retailer equated w/ manufacturer
They could've substituted the material to reduce the risk or fix a warning to it.
However, accident seen as inevitable as it was deemed that the child would've warn the coat anyway


Owe independent duty of care
Issuing warnings of which they know or ought to know of
Inspection of products - lower than the manufacturer
Instruct the buyer for use and warnings
Duty to take reasonable care not to render the products defective
Duty to withdraw products complained of
May be inspection before resale - depends on the facts of case

Flemming v Henry Denning & Sons Ltd

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