Advanced Legal Skills Assessment Instructions

Advanced Legal Skills Assessment Instructions: a) This assessment is weighted 100% towards your final module mark. Please submit your work on or before the deadline provided on the assessment forum. b) Please read the facts and decision in Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 in full and then answer the questions below. Please remember to check all presentation requirements and include a bibliography. Questions: 1. What were the material facts of the case? 2. What were the legal issues involved? 3. What was the decision of the court? 4. What were the main differences in reasoning between the majority judgment(s) and the dissenting judgment(s)? Critically assess the extent to which Aitkin’s judgement accurately reflects the opinion of the majority judges. 5. What is the ‘neighbour principle’? Explain the term ‘neighbour’ and discuss where the term might be derived from 6. Critically analyse the development of this principle both in the UK and in other jurisdictions. 7. Read this article regarding the Oil Industry in Nigeria: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/may/30/oil-spills-nigerianiger-delta-shell . Explain how the principles of law from Donoghue v Stevenson might be relevant to this environmental problem and assess their effectiveness in regulation the conduct of oil companies. 5 *562 M’Alister (or Donoghue) (Pauper) Appellant; v. Stevenson Respondent. House of Lords HL Lord Buckmaster, Lord Atkin, Lord Tomlin , Lord Thankerton, and Lord Macmillan. 1932 May 26. Negligence–Liability of Manufacturer to ultimate Consumer–Article of Food– Defect likely to cause Injury to Health. By Scots and English law alike the manufacturer of an article of food, medicine or the like, sold by him to a distributor in circumstances which prevent the distributor or the ultimate purchaser or consumer from discovering by inspection any defect, is under a legal duty to the ultimate purchaser or consumer to take reasonable care that the article is free from defect likely to cause injury to health:- So held,by Lord Atkin, Lord Thankerton and Lord Macmillan; Lord Buckmaster and Lord Tomlin dissenting. George v. Skivington (1869) L. R. 5 Ex. 1 approved. Dicta of Brett M.R. in Heaven v. Pender (1883) 11 Q. B. D. 503, 509-11 considered. Mullen v. Barr & Co., Ld., and M’Gowan v. Barr & Co., Ld., 1929 S. C. 461 overruled. APPEAL against an interlocutor of the Second Division of the Court of Session in Scotland recalling an interlocutor of the Lord Ordinary (Lord Moncrieff). By an action brought in the Court of Session the appellant, who was a shop assistant, sought to recover damages from the respondent, who was a manufacturer of aerated waters, for injuries she suffered as a result of consuming part of the contents of a bottle of ginger-beer which had been manufactured by the respondent, and which contained the decomposed remains of a snail. The appellant by her condescendence averred that the bottle of ginger-beer was purchased for the appellant by a friend in a café at Paisley, which was occupied by one Minchella; that the bottle was made of dark opaque glass and that the appellant had no reason to suspect that it contained anything but pure gingerbeer; that the said Minchella poured some of the ginger-beer out into a tumbler, and that the appellant drank some of the contents of the tumbler; that her friend was then proceeding to pour the remainder of the contents of the bottle into the tumbler when a snail, which *563 was in a state of decomposition, floated out of the bottle; that as a result of the nauseating sight of the snail in such circumstances, and in consequence of the impurities in the ginger-beer which she had already consumed, the appellant suffered from shock and severe gastroenteritis. The appellant further averred that the ginger-beer was manufactured by the respondent to be sold as a drink to the public (including the appellant); that it was bottled by the respondent and labelled by him with a label bearing his name; and that the bottles were thereafter sealed with a metal cap by the respondent. She further averred that it was the duty of the respondent to provide a system of working his business which would not allow snails to get into his ginger-beer bottles, and that it was also his duty to provide an efficient system of inspection of the bottles before the ginger-beer was filled into them, and that he had failed 6 in both these duties and had so caused the accident. The respondent objected that these averments were irrelevant and insufficient to support the conclusions of the summons. The Lord Ordinary held that the averments disclosed a good cause of action and allowed a proof. The Second Division by a majority (the Lord Justice-Clerk, Lord Ormidale, and Lord Anderson; Lord Hunter dissenting) recalled the interlocutor of the Lord Ordinary and dismissed the action. 1931. Dec. 10, 11. George Morton K.C. (with him W. R. Milligan) (both of the Scottish Bar) for the appellant. The facts averred by the appellant in her condescendence disclose a relevant cause of action. In deciding this question against the appellant the Second Division felt themselves bound by their previous decision in Mullen v. Barr & Co., Ld. [FN1] It was there held that in determining the question of the liability of the manufacturer to the consumer there was no difference between the law of England and the law of Scotland – and this is not now disputed – and that the question fell to be determined according to the English authorities, and the majority of the Court (Lord Hunter dissenting) were of opinion that in England there was a *564 long line of authority opposed to the appellant’s contention. The English authorities are not consistent, and the cases relied on by the Court of Session differed essentially in their facts from the present case. No case can be found where in circumstances similar to the present the Court has held that the manufacturer is under no liability to the consumer. The Court below has proceeded on the general principle that in an ordinary case a manufacturer is under no duty to any one with whom he is not in any contractual relation. To this rule there are two well known exceptions: (1.) where the article is dangerous per se, and (2.) where the article is dangerous to the knowledge of the manufacturer, but the appellant submits that the duty owed by a manufacturer to members of the public is not capable of so strict a limitation, and that the question whether a duty arises independently of contract depends upon the circumstances of each particular case. When a manufacturer puts upon a market an article intended for human consumption in a form which precludes the possibility of an examination of the article by the retailer or the consumer, he is liable to the consumer for not taking reasonable care to see that the article is not injurious to health. In the circumstances of this case the respondent owed a duty to the appellant to take care that the ginger-beer which he manufactured, bottled, labelled and sealed (the conditions under which the ginger-beer was put upon the market being such that it was impossible for the consumer to examine the contents of the bottles), and which he invited the appellant to buy, contained nothing which would cause her injury: George v. Skivington [FN2]; and see per Brett M.R. in Heaven v. Pender [FN3] and per Lord Dunedin in Dominion Natural Gas Co. v. Collins & Perkins. [FN4] George v. Skivington [FN5]has not always been favourably commented on, but it has not been overruled, and it has been referred to by this House without disapproval: Cavalier v. Pope. [FN6] In the United States the law is laid down in the same way: Thomas v. Winchester. [FN7] FN1 1929 S. C. 461. FN2 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN3 11 Q. B. D. 503, 509 et seq. FN4 [1909] A. C. 640, 646. FN5 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN6 [1906] A. C. 428, 433. FN7 (1852) 6 N. Y. 397. 7 *565 [He also referred to Dixon v. Bell [FN8]; Langridge v. Levy [FN9]; Longmeid v. Holliday [FN10]; Bates v. Batey & Co., Ld. [FN11]; Weld-Blundell v. Stephens. [FN12]] FN8 (1816) 5 M. & S. 198. FN9 (1837) 2 M. & W. 519; (1838) 4 M. &amp
; W. 337. FN10 (1851) 6 Ex. 761. FN11 [1913] 3 K. B. 351. FN12 [1920] A. C. 956, 985. W. G. Normand, Solicitor-General for Scotland (with him J. L. Clyde (of the Scottish Bar) and T. Elder Jones (of the English Bar)) for the respondent. In an ordinary case such as this the manufacturer owes no duty to the consumer apart from contract. Admittedly the case does not come within either of the recognized exceptions to the general rule, but it is sought to introduce into the law a third exception in this particular case – namely, the case of goods intended for human consumption sold to the public in a form in which investigation is impossible. The reason now put forward by the appellant was no part of Lord Hunter’s dissent in the previous case; nor is there any hint of any such exception in any reported case. There is here no suggestion of a trap, and there are no averments to support it. It is said that people ought not to be allowed to put on the market food or drink which is deleterious, but is there any real distinction between articles of food or drink and any other article? In Heaven v. Pender [FN13]Brett M.R. states the principle of liability too widely, and in Le Lievre v. Gould [FN14] that principle is to a great extent whittled away by the Master of the Rolls himself and by A. L. Smith L.J. The true ground was that founded on by Cotton and Bowen L.JJ. in Heaven v. Pender. [FN15] In Blacker v. Lake & Elliot, Ld. [FN16] both Hamilton and Lush JJ. treat George v. Skivington [FN17]as overruled. Hamilton J. states the principle to be that the breach of the defendant’s contract with A. to use care and skill in the manufacture of an article does not per se give any cause of action to B. if he is injured by reason of the article proving defective, and he regards George v. Skivington [FN18], so far as it proceeds on duty to the ultimate user, as inconsistent with Winterbottom v. Wright. [FN19] *566 [Counsel also referred to Pollock on Torts, 13th ed., pp. 570, 571, and Beven on Negligence, 4th ed., vol. i., p. 49.] In England the law has taken a definite direction, which tends away from the success of the appellant. FN13 11 Q. B. D. 503. FN14 [1893] 1 Q. B. 491. FN15 11 Q. B. D. 503. FN16 (1912) 106 L. T. 533. FN17 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN18 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN19 (1842) 10 M. & W. 109. George Morton K.C. replied. The House took time for consideration. 1932. May 26. LORD BUCKMASTER (read by LORD TOMLIN). My Lords, the facts of this case are simple. On August 26, 1928, the appellant drank a bottle of ginger-beer, manufactured by the respondent, which a friend had bought from a retailer and given to her. … … … 8 LORD ATKIN. My Lords, the sole question for determination in this case is legal: Do the averments made by the pursuer in her pleading, if true, disclose a cause of action? I need not restate the particular facts. The question is whether the manufacturer of an article of drink sold by him to a distributor, in circumstances which prevent the distributor or the ultimate purchaser or consumer from discovering by inspection any defect, is under any legal duty to the ultimate purchaser or consumer to take reasonable care that the article *579 is free from defect likely to cause injury to health. I do not think a more important problem has occupied your Lordships in your judicial capacity: important both because of its bearing on public health and because of the practical test which it applies to the system under which it arises. The case has to be determined in accordance with Scots law; but it has been a matter of agreement between the experienced counsel who argued this case, and it appears to be the basis of the judgments of the learned judges of the Court of Session, that for the purposes of determining this problem the laws of Scotland and of England are the same. I speak with little authority on this point, but my own research, such as it is, satisfies me that the principles of the law of Scotland on such a question as the present are identical with those of English law; and I discuss the issue on that footing. The law of both countries appears to be that in order to support an action for damages for negligence the complainant has to show that he has been injured by the breach of a duty owed to him in the circumstances by the defendant to take reasonable care to avoid such injury. In the present case we are not concerned with the breach of the duty; if a duty exists, that would be a question of fact which is sufficiently averred and for present purposes must be assumed. We are solely concerned with the question whether, as a matter of law in the circumstances alleged, the defender owed any duty to the pursuer to take care. It is remarkable how difficult it is to find in the English authorities statements of general application defining the relations between parties that give rise to the duty. The Courts are concerned with the particular relations which come before them in actual litigation, and it is sufficient to say whether the duty exists in those circumstances. The result is that the Courts have been engaged upon an elaborate classification of duties as they exist in respect of property, whether real or personal, with further divisions as to ownership, occupation or control, and distinctions based on the particular relations of the one side or the other, whether manufacturer, salesman or landlord, customer, tenant, stranger, and so on. *580 In this way it can be ascertained at any time whether the law recognizes a duty, but only where the case can be referred to some particular species which has been examined and classified. And yet the duty which is common to all the cases where liability is established must logically be based upon some element common to the cases where it is found to exist. To seek a complete logical definition of the general principle is probably to go beyond the function of the judge, for the more general the definition the more likely it is to omit essentials or to introduce nonessentials. The attempt was made by Brett M.R. in Heaven v. Pender [FN79], in a definition to which I will later refer. As framed, it was demonstrably too wide, though it appears to me, if properly limited, to be capable of affording a valuable practical guide. FN79 11 Q. B. D. 503, 509. At present I content myself with pointing out that in English law there must be, and is, some general conception of relations giving rise to a duty of care, of which the particular cases found in the books are but instances. The liability for negligence, whether you style it such or treat it as in other systems as a species of “culpa,” is no doubt based upon a general public sentiment of moral wrongdoing for which the offender must pay. But acts or omissions which any 9 moral code would censure cannot in a practical world be treated so as to give a right to every person injured by them to demand relief. In this way rules of law arise which limit the range of complainants and the extent of their remedy. The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question. This appears to me to be the doctrine of Heaven v. Pender [FN80], *581 as laid down by Lord Esher (then Brett M.R.) when it is limited by the notion of proximity introduced by Lord Esher himself and A. L. Smith L.J. in Le Lievre v. Gould. [FN81] Lord Esher says: “That case established that, under certain circumstances, one man may owe a duty to another, even though there is no contract between them. If one man is near to another, or is near to the property of another, a duty lies upon him not to do that which may cause a personal injury to that other, or may injure his property.
” So A. L. Smith L.J.: “The decision of Heaven v. Pender [FN82]was founded upon the principle, that a duty to take due care did arise when the person or property of one was in such proximity to the person or property of another that, if due care was not taken, damage might be done by the one to the other.” I think that this sufficiently states the truth if proximity be not confined to mere physical proximity, but be used, as I think it was intended, to extend to such close and direct relations that the act complained of directly affects a person whom the person alleged to be bound to take care would know would be directly affected by his careless act. That this is the sense in which nearness of “proximity ” was intended by Lord Esher is obvious from his own illustration in Heaven v. Pender [FN83] of the application of his doctrine to the sale of goods. “This ” (i.e., the rule he has just formulated) “includes the case of goods, etc., supplied to be used immediately by a particular person or persons, or one of a class of persons, where it would be obvious to the person supplying, if he thought, that the goods would in all probability be used at once by such persons before a reasonable opportunity for discovering any defect which might exist, and where the thing supplied would be of such a nature that a neglect of ordinary care or skill as to its condition or the manner of supplying it would probably cause danger to the person or property of the person for whose use it was supplied, and who was about to use it. It would exclude a case in which the goods are supplied under circumstances in which it would be a chance by whom they would be used *582 or whether they would be used or not, or whether they would be used before there would probably be means of observing any defect, or where the goods would be of such a nature that a want of care or skill as to their condition or the manner of supplying them would not probably produce danger of injury to person or property.” I draw particular attention to the fact that Lord Esher emphasizes the necessity of goods having to be “used immediately” and “used at once before a reasonable opportunity of inspection. ” This is obviously to exclude the possibility of goods having their condition altered by lapse of time, and to call attention to the proximate relationship, which may be too remote where inspection even of the person using, certainly of an intermediate person, may reasonably be interposed. With this necessary qualification of proximate relationship as explained in Le Lievre v. Gould [FN84], I think the judgment of Lord Esher expresses the law of England; without the qualification, I think the majority of the Court in Heaven v. Pender [FN85]were justified in thinking the principle was expressed in too general terms. There will no doubt arise cases where it will be difficult to determine whether the contemplated relationship is so close that the duty arises. But in the class of case now before the Court I cannot conceive any difficulty to arise. A manufacturer puts up an article of food in a container which he knows will be 10 opened by the actual consumer. There can be no inspection by any purchaser and no reasonable preliminary inspection by the consumer. Negligently, in the course of preparation, he allows the contents to be mixed with poison. It is said that the law of England and Scotland is that the poisoned consumer has no remedy against the negligent manufacturer. If this were the result of the authorities, I should consider the result a grave defect in the law, and so contrary to principle that I should hesitate long before following any decision to that effect which had not the authority of this House. I would point out that, in the assumed state of the authorities, not only would the consumer have no remedy against the *583 manufacturer, he would have none against any one else, for in the circumstances alleged there would be no evidence of negligence against any one other than the manufacturer; and, except in the case of a consumer who was also a purchaser, no contract and no warranty of fitness, and in the case of the purchase of a specific article under its patent or trade name, which might well be the case in the purchase of some articles of food or drink, no warranty protecting even the purchaser-consumer. There are other instances than of articles of food and drink where goods are sold intended to be used immediately by the consumer, such as many forms of goods sold for cleaning purposes, where the same liability must exist. The doctrine supported by the decision below would not only deny a remedy to the consumer who was injured by consuming bottled beer or chocolates poisoned by the negligence of the manufacturer, but also to the user of what should be a harmless proprietary medicine, an ointment, a soap, a cleaning fluid or cleaning powder. I confine myself to articles of common household use, where every one, including the manufacturer, knows that the articles will be used by other persons than the actual ultimate purchaser – namely, by members of his family and his servants, and in some cases his guests. I do not think so in of our jurisprudence as to suppose that its principles are so remote from the ordinary needs of civilized society and the ordinary claims it makes upon its members as to deny a legal remedy where there is so obviously a social wrong. FN80 11 Q. B. D. 503, 509. FN81 [1893] 1 Q. B. 491, 497, 504. FN82 11 Q. B. D. 503, 509. FN83 11 Q. B. D. 503, 510. FN84 [1893] 1 Q. B. 491. FN85 11 Q. B. D. 503. It will be found, I think, on examination that there is no case in which the circumstances have been such as I have just suggested where the liability has been negatived. There are numerous cases, where the relations were much more remote, where the duty has been held not to exist. There are also dicta in such cases which go further than was necessary for the determination of the particular issues, which have caused the difficulty experienced by the Courts below. I venture to say that in the branch of the law which deals with civil wrongs, dependent in England at any rate entirely upon the application by judges of general principles also *584 formulated by judges, it is of particular importance to guard against the danger of stating propositions of law in wider terms than is necessary, lest essential factors be omitted in the wider survey and the inherent adaptability of English law be unduly restricted. For this reason it is very necessary in considering reported cases in the law of torts that the actual decision alone should carry authority, proper weight, of course, being given to the dicta of the judges. In my opinion several decided cases support the view that in such a case as the present the manufacturer owes a duty to the consumer to be careful. A direct authority is George v. Skivington. [FN86] That was a decision on a demurrer to a declaration which averred that the defendant professed to sell a hairwash made 11 by himself, and that the plaintiff Joseph George bought a bottle, to be used by his wife, the plaintiff Emma George, as the defendant then knew, and that the defendant had so negligently conducted himself in preparing and selling the hairwash that it was unfit for use, whereby the female plaintiff was injured. Kelly C.B. said that there was no question of warranty, but whether the chemist was liable in an action on the case for unskilfulness and negligence in the manufacture of it. “Unquestionably there was such a duty towards the purchaser, and it extends, in my judgment, to the person for whose use the vendor knew the compound was purchased.” Pigott and Cleasby BB. put their judgments on the same ground. I venture to think that Cotton L.J., in Heaven v. Pender [FN87], misinterprets Cleasby B.’s judgment in the reference to Langridge v. Levy. [FN88] Cleasby B. appears to me to make it plain that in his opinion the duty to take reasonable care can be substituted for the duty which existed in Langridge v. Levy [FN89] not to defraud. It is worth noticing that George v. Skivington [FN90]was referred to by Cleasby B. himself, sitting as a member of t
he Court of Exchequer Chamber in Francis v. Cockrell [FN91], and was recognized by him as based on an ordinary duty to take care. It was also affirmed by Brett M.R. *585 in Cunnington v. Great Northern Ry. Co. [FN92], decided on July 2 at a date between the argument and the judgment in Heaven v. Pender [FN93], though, as in that case the Court negatived any breach of duty, the expression of opinion is not authoritative. The existence of the duty contended for is also supported by Hawkins v. Smith [FN94], where a dock labourer in the employ of the dock company was injured by a defective sack which had been hired by the consignees from the defendant, who knew the use to which it was to be put, and had been provided by the consignees for the use of the dock company, who had been employed by them to unload the ship on the dock company’s premises. The Divisional Court, Day and Lawrance JJ., held the defendant liable for negligence. Similarly, in Elliott v. Hall [FN95], the defendants, colliery owners, consigned coal to the plaintiff’s employers, coal merchants, in a truck hired by the defendants from a wagon company. The plaintiff was injured in the course of unloading the coal by reason of the defective condition of the truck, and was held by a Divisional Court, Grove and A. L. Smith JJ., entitled to recover on the ground of the defendants’ breach of duty to see that the truck was not in a dangerous condition. It is to be noticed that in neither case was the defective chattel in the defendants’ occupation, possession or control, or on their premises, while in the latter case it was not even their property. It is sometimes said that the liability in these cases depends upon an invitation by the defendant to the plaintiff to use his chattel. I do not find the decisions expressed to be based upon this ground, but rather upon the knowledge that the plaintiff in the course of the contemplated use of the chattel would use it; and the supposed invitation appears to me to be in many cases a fiction, and merely a form of expressing the direct relation between supplier and user which gives rise to the duty to take care. A very recent case which has the authority of this House is Oliver v. Saddler & Co. [FN96]In that case a firm *586 of stevedores employed to unload a cargo of maize in bags provided the rope slings by which the cargo was raised to the ship’s deck by their own men using the ship’s tackle, and then transported to the dockside by the shore porters, of whom the plaintiff was one. The porters relied on examination by the stevedores and had themselves no opportunity of examination. In these circumstances this House, reversing the decision of the First Division, held that there was a duty owed by the stevedore company to the porters to see that the slings were fit for use, and restored the judgment of the Lord Ordinary, Lord Morison, in favour of the pursuer. I find no trace of the doctrine of invitation in the opinions expressed in this House, of which mine was one: the decision was based upon the fact that the direct relations established, especially the circumstance that the injured porter had no opportunity of independent examination, gave rise to a duty to be careful. 12 FN86 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN87 11 Q. B. D. 517. FN88 4 M. & W. 337. FN89 4 M. & W. 337. FN90 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN91 L. R. 5 Q. B. 501, 515. FN92 (1883) 49 L. T. 392. FN93 11 Q. B. D. 517. FN94 (1896) 12 Times L. R. 532. FN95 (1885) 15 Q. B. D. 315. FN96 [1929] A. C. 584. I should not omit in this review of cases the decision in Grote v. Chester and Holyhead Ry. [FN97] That was an action on the case in which it was alleged that the defendants had constructed a bridge over the Dee on their railway and had licensed the use of the bridge to the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway to carry passengers over it, and had so negligently constructed the bridge that the plaintiff, a passenger of the last named railway, had been injured by the falling of the bridge. At the trial before Vaughan Williams J. the judge had directed the jury that the plaintiff was entitled to recover if the bridge was not constructed with reasonable care and skill. On a motion for a new trial the Attorney-General (Sir John Jervis) contended that there was misdirection, for the defendants were only liable for negligence, and the jury might have understood that there was an absolute liability. The Court of Exchequer, after consulting the trial judge as to his direction, refused the rule. This case is said by Kelly C.B., in Francis v. Cockrell [FN98] in the Exchequer Chamber, to have been decided upon an implied contract with every person lawfully using the bridge that it was *587 reasonably fit for the purpose. I can find no trace of such a ground in the pleading or in the argument or judgment. It is true that the defendants were the owners and occupiers of the bridge. The law as to the liability to invitees and licensees had not then been developed. The case is interesting, because it is a simple action on the case for negligence, and the Court upheld the duty to persons using the bridge to take reasonable care that the bridge was safe. FN97 (1848) 2 Ex. 251. FN98 L. R. 5 Q. B. 505. It now becomes necessary to consider the cases which have been referred to in the Courts below as laying down the proposition that no duty to take care is owed to the consumer in such a case as this. In Dixon v. Bell [FN99], the defendant had left a loaded gun at his lodgings and sent his servant, a mulatto girl aged about thirteen or fourteen, for the gun, asking the landlord to remove the priming and give it her. The landlord did remove the priming and gave it to the girl, who later levelled it at the plaintiff’s small son, drew the trigger and injured the boy. The action was in case for negligently entrusting the young servant with the gun. The jury at the trial before Lord Ellenborough had returned a verdict for the plaintiff. A motion by Sir William Garrow (Attorney-General) for a new trial was dismissed by the Court, Lord Ellenborough and Bayley J., the former remarking that it was incumbent on the defendant, who by charging the gun had made it capable of doing mischief, to render it safe and innoxious. FN99 5 M. & S. 198. In Langridge v. Levy [FN100] the action was in case, and the declaration alleged that the defendant, by falsely and fraudulently warranting a gun to have been made by Nock and to be a good, safe, and secure gun, sold the gun to the 13 plaintiff’s father for the use of himself and his son, and that one of his sons, confiding in the warranty, used the gun, which burst and injured him. Plea not guilty and no warranty as alleged. The report is not very satisfactory. No evidence is reported of any warranty or statement except that the gun was an elegant twist gun by Nock. The judge left to the jury whether the defendant had warranted the gun *588 to be by Nock and to be safe; whether it was in fact unsafe; and whether the defendant warranted it to be safe knowing that it was not so. The jury returned a general verdict for the plaintiff. It appears to have been argued that the plaintiff could recover wherever there is a breach of duty imposed on the defendant by contract or otherwise, and the plaintiff is injured by reason of its breach; by this is meant apparently that the duty need not be owed to the plaintiff, but that he can take advantage of the breach of a duty owed to a third party. This contention was negatived by the Court, who held, however, that the plaintiff could recover if a representation known to be false was made to a third person with the intention that a chattel should be used by the plaintiff, even though it does not appear that the defendant intended the false representation to be communicated to him; see per Parke B. [FN101]The same view was adopted by the Exchequer Chamber, the user by the plaintiff being treated by the Court as one of the acts contemplated by the fraudulent defendant. It is unnecessary to consider whether the proposition can be supported in its widest form. It is sufficient to say that the case was based, as I think, in the pleading, and certainly in the judgment,
on the ground of fraud, and it appears to add nothing of value positively or negatively to the present discussion. Winterbottom v. Wright [FN102] was a case decided on a demurrer. The plaintiff had demurred to two of the pleas, as to which there was no decision by the Court; but on the hearing of the plaintiff’s demurrer the Court, in accordance with the practice of the day, were entitled to consider the whole record, including the declaration, and, coming to the conclusion that this declaration disclosed no cause of action, gave judgment for the defendant: see Sutton’s Personal Actions at Common Law, p. 113. The advantage of the procedure is that we are in a position to know the precise issue at law which arose for determination. The declaration was in case, and alleged that the defendant had contracted with the Postmaster-General to provide the mail-coach to convey *589 mails from Hartford to Holyhead and to keep the mails in safe condition; that Atkinson and others, with notice of the said contract, had contracted with the Postmaster-General to convey the road mailcoach from Hartford to Holyhead; and that the plaintiff, relying on the said first contract, hired himself to Atkinson to drive the mail-coach; but that the defendant so negligently conducted himself and so utterly disregarded his aforesaid contract that the defendant, having the means of knowing, and well knowing, all the aforesaid premises, the mail-coach, being in a dangerous condition, owing to certain latent defects and to no other cause, gave way, whereby the plaintiff was thrown from his seat and injured. It is to be observed that no negligence apart from breach of contract was alleged – in other words, no duty was alleged other than the duty arising out of the contract; it is not stated that the defendant knew, or ought to have known, of the latent defect. The argument of the defendant was that, on the face of the declaration, the wrong arose merely out of the breach of a contract, and that only a party to the contract could sue. The Court of Exchequer adopted that view, as clearly appears from the judgments of Alderson and Rolfe BB. There are dicta by Lord Abinger which are too wide as to an action of negligence being confined to cases of breach of a public duty. The actual decision appears to have been manifestly right; no duty to the plaintiff arose out of the contract; and the duty of the defendant under the contract with the Postmaster-General to put the coach in good repair could not have involved such direct relations with the servant of the persons whom the Postmaster-General employed to drive the coach as would give rise to a duty of care owed to such servant. We now come to Longmeid v. Holliday [FN103], the dicta in which have had considerable effect in subsequent decisions. In that case 14 the declaration in case alleged that the plaintiff, Frederick Longmeid, had bought from the defendant, the maker and seller of “the Holliday lamp,” a lamp to be used by himself and his wife Eliza in the plaintiff’s shop; that the defendant *590 induced the sale by the false and fraudulent warranty that the lamp was reasonably fit for the purpose; and that the plaintiff Eliza, confiding in the said warranty, lighted the lamp, which exploded, whereby she was injured. It is perhaps not an extravagant guess to suppose that the plaintiffs’ pleader had read the case of Langridge v. Levy. [FN104] The jury found all the facts for the plaintiffs except the allegation of fraud; they were not satisfied that the defendant knew of the defects. The plaintiff Frederick had already recovered damages on the contract of sale for breach of the implied warranty of fitness. The declaration made no averment of negligence. Verdict was entered at the trial by Martin B. for the plaintiff, but with liberty to the defendant to move to enter the verdict for him. A rule having been obtained, plaintiff’s counsel sought to support the verdict on the ground that this was not an action for a breach of duty arising solely from contract, but for an injury resulting from conduct amounting to fraud. Parke B., who delivered the judgment of the Court, held that, fraud having been negatived, the action could not be maintained on that ground. He then went on to discuss cases in which a third person not a party to a contract may sue for damages sustained if it is broken. After dealing with the negligence of a surgeon, or of a carrier, or of a firm in breach of contract committing a nuisance on a highway, he deals with the case where any one delivers to another without notice an instrument in its nature dangerous, or under particular circumstances, as a loaded gun, and refers to Dixon v. Bell [FN105], though what this case has to do with contract it is difficult to see. He then goes on: “But it would be going much too far to say that so much care is required in the ordinary intercourse of life between one individual and another, that, if a machine not in its nature dangerous – a carriage for instance – but which might become so by a latent defect entirely unknown although discoverable by the exercise of ordinary care, should be lent or given by one person, even by the person who manufactured it, to another, the former should be answerable *591 to the latter for a subsequent damage accruing by the use of it.” It is worth noticing how guarded this dictum is. The case put is a machine such as a carriage, not in its nature dangerous, which might become dangerous by a latent defect entirely unknown. Then there is the saving, “although discoverable by the exercise of ordinary care,” discoverable by whom is not said; it may include the person to whom the innocent machine is “lent or given.” Then the dictum is confined to machines “lent or given” (a later sentence makes it clear that a distinction is intended between these words and “delivered to the purchaser under the contract of sale”), and the manufacturer is introduced for the first time, “even by the person who manufactured it.” I do not for a moment believe that Parke B. had in his mind such a case as a loaf negligently mixed with poison by the baker which poisoned a purchaser’s family. He is, in my opinion, confining his remarks primarily to cases where a person is seeking to rely upon a duty of care which arises out of a contract with a third party, and has never even discussed the case of a manufacturer negligently causing an article to be dangerous and selling it in that condition whether with immediate or mediate effect upon the consumer. It is noteworthy that he only refers to “letting or giving” chattels, operations known to the law, where the special relations thereby created have a particular bearing on the existence or non-existence of a duty to take care. Next in this chain of authority come George v. Skivington [FN106] and Heaven v. Pender [FN107], which I have already discussed. The next case is Earl v. Lubbock. [FN108] The plaintiff sued in the county court for personal injuries due to the negligence of the defendant. The plaintiff was a driver in the employ of a firm who owned vans. The defendant, a master wheelwright, had contracted with the firm to keep their vans in good and substantial repair. The allegation of negligence was that the defendant’s servant had negligently failed to inspect and repair a defective wheel, 15 and had negligently repaired the wheel. The learned county court *592 judge had held that the defendant owed no duty to the plaintiff, and the Divisional Court (Lord Alverstone L.C.J., Wills and Kennedy JJ.) and the Court of Appeal agreed with him. The Master of the Rolls, Sir R. Henn Collins, said that the case was concluded by Winterbottom v. Wright. [FN109] In other words, he must have treated the duty as alleged to arise only from a breach of contract; for, as has been pointed out, that was the only allegation in Winterbottom v. Wright [FN110], negligence apart from contract being neither averred nor proved. It is true that he cites with approval the dicta of Lord Abinger in that case; but obviously I think his approval must be limited to those dicta so far as they related to the particular facts before the Court of Appeal,
and to cases where, as Lord Abinger says, the law permits a contract to be turned into a tort. Stirling L.J., it is true, said that to succeed the plaintiff must bring his case within the proposition of the majority in Heaven v. Pender [FN111], that any one who, without due warning, supplies to others for use an instrument which to his knowledge is in such a condition as to cause danger is liable for injury. I venture to think that the Lord Justice is mistakenly treating a proposition which applies one test of a duty as though it afforded the only criterion. FN100 2 M. & W. 519; 4 M. & W. 337. FN101 2 M. & W. 531. FN102 10 M. & W. 109. FN103 6 Ex. 761. FN104 2 M. & W. 519; 4 M. & W. 337. FN105 5 M. & S. 198. FN106 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN107 11 Q. B. D. 503. FN108 [1905] 1 K. B. 253. FN109 10 M. & W. 109. FN110 10 M. & W. 109. FN111 11 Q. B. D. 503. Mathew L.J. appears to me to put the case on its proper footing when he says [FN112] the argument of the plaintiff was that the defendant’s servants had been negligent in the performance of the contract with the owners of the van, and that it followed as a matter of law that any one in this employment had a cause of action against the defendant. “It is impossible to accept such a wide proposition, and, indeed, it is difficult to see how, if it were the law, trade could be carried on.” I entirely agree. I have no doubt that in that case the plaintiff failed to show that the repairer owed any duty to him. The question of law in that case seems very different from that raised in the present case. The case of Blacker v. Lake & Elliot, Ld. [FN113], approaches more nearly the facts of this case. I have read and re-read *593 it, having unfeigned respect for the authority of the two learned judges, Hamilton and Lush JJ., who decided it, and I am bound to say I have found difficulty in formulating the precise grounds upon which the judgment was given. The plaintiff had been injured by the bursting of a brazing lamp which he had bought from a shopkeeper who had bought it from the manufacturer, the defendant. The plaintiff had used the lamp for twelve months before the accident. The case was tried in the county court before that excellent lawyer the late Sir Howland Roberts. That learned judge had directed the jury that the plaintiff could succeed if the defendants had put upon the market a lamp not fit for use in the sense that a person working it with reasonable care would incur a risk which a properly constructed lamp would not impose upon him. The jury found that the lamp was defective by reason of an improper system of making an essential joint between the container and the vaporizer; that the defendants did not know that it was dangerous, but ought as reasonable men to have known it. Hamilton J. seems to have thought that there was no evidence of negligence in this respect. 16 Lush J. expressly says so and implies – “I also think” – that Hamilton J. so thought. If so, the case resolves itself into a series of important dicta. Hamilton J. says [FN114] that it has been decided in authorities from Winterbottom v. Wright [FN115] to Earl v. Lubbock [FN116] that the breach of the defendants’ contract with A., to use care and skill in and about the manufacture or repair of an article, does not itself give any cause of action to B. when injured by the article proving to be defective in breach of that contract. He then goes on to say, how is the case of the plaintiffs any better when there is no contract proved of which there could be a breach. I think, with respect, that this saying does not give sufficient weight to the actual issues raised by the pleadings on which alone the older cases are an authority. If the issue raised was an alleged duty created by contract, it would have been *594 irrelevant to consider duties created without reference to contract; and contract cases cease to be authorities for duties alleged to exist beyond or without contract. Moreover, it is a mistake to describe the authorities as dealing with the failure of care or skill in the manufacture of goods, as contrasted with repair. The only manufacturing case was Longmeid v. Holliday [FN117], where negligence was not alleged. Hamilton J. recognizes that George v. Skivington [FN118] was a decision which, if it remained an authority, bound him. He says that, without presuming to say it was wrong, he cannot follow it, because it is in conflict with Winterbottom v. Wright. [FN119]I find this very difficult to understand, for George v. Skivington [FN120]was based upon a duty in the manufacturer to take care independently of contract, while Winterbottom v. Wright [FN121] was decided on demurrer in a case where the alleged duty was based solely on breach of a contractual duty to keep in repair, and no negligence was alleged. Lush J. says in terms that there are only three classes of cases in which a stranger to a contract can sue for injury by a defective chattel: one is that of fraud; the second of articles dangerous or noxious in themselves, where the duty is only to warn; the third of public nuisance. He does not bring the cases represented by Elliott v. Hall [FN122](the defective coal wagon) within his classes at all. He says they belong to a totally different class, “where the control of premises or the management of a dangerous thing upon premises creates a duty.” I have already pointed out that this distinction is unfounded in fact, for in Elliott v. Hall [FN123], as in Hawkins v. Smith [FN124] (the defective sack), the defendant exercised no control over the article and the accident did not occur on his premises. With all respect, I think that the judgments in the case err by seeking to confine the law to rigid and exclusive categories, and by not giving sufficient attention to the general principle which governs the whole law of negligence in the duty owed *595 to those who will be immediately injured by lack of care. The last case I need refer to is Bates v. Batey & Co., Ld. [FN125], where manufacturers of ginger-beer were sued by a plaintiff who had been injured by the bursting of a bottle of ginger-beer bought from a shopkeeper who had obtained it from the manufacturers. The manufacturers had bought the actual bottle from its maker, but were found by the jury to have been negligent in not taking proper means to discover whether the bottle was defective or not. Horridge J. found that a bottle of ginger-beer was not dangerous in itself, but this defective bottle was in fact dangerous; but, as the defendants did not know that it was dangerous, they were not liable, though by the exercise of reasonable care they could have discovered the defect. This case differs from the present only by reason of the fact that it was not the manufacturers of the ginger-beer who caused the defect in the bottle; but, on the assumption that the jury were right in finding a lack of reasonable care in not examining the bottle, I should have come to the conclusion that, as the manufacturers must have contemplated the bottle being handled immediately by the consumer, they owed a duty to him to take care that he should not be injured externally by explosion, just as I think they owed a duty to him to take care that he should not be injured internally by poison or other noxious thing. I do not find it necessary to discuss at length the cases dealing with duties where the thing is dangerous, or, in the narrower category, 17 belongs to a class of things which are dangerous in themselves. I regard the distinction as an unnatural one so far as it is used to serve as a logical differentiation by which to distinguish the existence or non-existence of a legal right. In this respect I agree with what was said by Scrutton L.J. in Hodge & Sons v. Anglo-American Oil Co. [FN126], a case which was ultimately decided on a question of fact. “Personally, I do not understand the difference between a thing dangerous in itself, as poison, and a thing not dangerous as a class, but by negligent construction dangerous as a particular thing. The latter, if anything, *596 seems the more dangerous of the two; it is a wolf in sheep’s cl
othing instead of an obvious wolf.” The nature of the thing may very well call for different degrees of care, and the person dealing with it may well contemplate persons as being within the sphere of his duty to take care who would not be sufficiently proximate with less dangerous goods; so that not only the degree of care but the range of persons to whom a duty is owed may be extended. But they all illustrate the general principle. In the Dominion Natural Gas Co., Ld. v. Collins and Perkins [FN127] the appellants had installed a gas apparatus and were supplying natural gas on the premises of a railway company. They had installed a regulator to control the pressure and their men negligently made an escape-valve discharge into the building instead of into the open air. The railway workmen – the plaintiffs – were injured by an explosion in the premises. The defendants were held liable. Lord Dunedin, in giving the judgment of the Judicial Committee (consisting of himself, Lord Macnaghten, Lord Collins, and Sir Arthur Wilson), after stating that there was no relation of contract between the plaintiffs and the defendants, proceeded: “There may be, however, in the case of anyone performing an operation, or setting up and installing a machine, a relationship of duty. What that duty is will vary according to the subject-matter of the things involved. It has, however, again and again been held that in the case of articles dangerous in themselves, such as loaded firearms, poisons, explosives, and other things ejusdem generis, there is a peculiar duty to take precaution imposed upon those who send forth or install such articles when it is necessarily the case that other parties will come within their proximity.” This, with respect, exactly sums up the position. The duty may exist independently of contract. Whether it exists or not depends upon the subject-matter involved; but clearly in the class of things enumerated there is a special duty to take precautions. This is the very opposite of creating a special category in which alone the duty exists. I may add, though it obviously would *597 make no difference in the creation of a duty, that the installation of an apparatus to be used for gas perhaps more closely resembles the manufacture of a gun than a dealing with a loaded gun. In both cases the actual work is innocuous; it is only when the gun is loaded or the apparatus charged with gas that the danger arises. I do not think it necessary to consider the obligation of a person who entrusts to a carrier goods which are dangerous or which he ought to know are dangerous. As far as the direct obligation of the consignor to the carrier is concerned, it has been put upon an implied warranty: Brass v. Maitland [FN128]; but it is also a duty owed independently of contract, e.g., to the carrier’s servant: Farrant v. Barnes. [FN129] So far as the cases afford an analogy they seem to support the proposition now asserted. I need only mention to distinguish two cases in this House which are referred to in some of the cases which I have reviewed. Caledonian Ry. Co. v. Mulholland or Warwick [FN130], in which the appellant company were held not liable for injuries caused by a defective brake on a coal wagon conveyed by the railway company to a point in the transit where their contract ended, and where the wagons were taken over for haulage for the last part of the journey by a second railway company, on which part the accident happened. It was held that the first railway company were under no duty to the injured workmen to examine the wagon for defects at the end of their contractual haulage. There was ample opportunity for inspection by the second railway company. The relations were not proximate. In the second (Cavalier v. Pope 18 [FN131]), the wife of the tenant of a house let unfurnished sought to recover from the landlord damages for personal injuries arising from the non-repair of the house, on the ground that the landlord had contracted with her husband to repair the house. It was held that the wife was not a party to the contract, and that the well known absence of any duty in respect of the letting an unfurnished house prevented her from relying on any cause of action for negligence. FN112 [1905] 1 K. B. 259. FN113 106 L. T. 533. FN114 106 L. T. 536. FN115 10 M. & W. 109. FN116 [1905] 1 K. B. 253. FN117 6 Ex. 761. FN118 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN119 10 M. & W. 109. FN120 L. R. 5 Ex. 1. FN121 10 M. & W. 109. FN122 15 Q. B. D. 315. FN123 15 Q. B. D. 315. FN124 12 Times L. R. 532. FN125 [1913] 3 K. B. 351. FN126 (1922) 12 Ll. L. Rep. 183, 187. FN127 [1909] A. C. 640, 646. FN128 (1856) 6 E. & B. 470. FN129 (1862) 11 C. B. (N. S.) 553, 563. FN130 [1898] A. C. 216. FN131 [1906] A. C. 428. *598 In the most recent case (Bottomley v. Bannister [FN132]), an action under Lord Campbell’s Act, the deceased man, the father of the plaintiff, had taken an unfurnished house from the defendants, who had installed a gas boiler with a special gas-burner which if properly regulated required no flue. The deceased and his wife were killed by fumes from the apparatus. The case was determined on the gound that the apparatus was part of the realty and that the landlord did not know of the danger; but there is a discussion of the case on the supposition that it was a chattel. Greer L.J. states with truth that it is not easy to reconcile all the authorities, and that there is no authority binding on the Court of Appeal that a person selling an article which he did not know to be dangerous can be held liable to a person with whom he has made no contract by reason of the fact that reasonable inquiries might have enabled him to discover that the article was in fact dangerous. When the danger is in fact occasioned by his own lack of care, then in cases of a proximate relationship the present case will, I trust, supply the deficiency. FN132 [1932] 1 K. B. 458; (1932) 101 L. J. (K. B.) 46, 54. It is always a satisfaction to an English lawyer to be able to test his application of fundamental principles of the common law by the development of the same doctrines by the lawyers of the Courts of the United States. In that country I find that the law appears to be well established in the sense in which I have indicated. The mouse had emerged from the ginger-beer bottle in the United States before it appeared in Scotland, but there it brought a liability upon the manufacturer. I must not in this long judgment do more than refer to the illuminating judgment of Cardozo J. in MacPherson v. Buick Motor Co.in the New York Court of Appeals [FN133], in which he states the principles of the law as I should desire to state them, and reviews the authorities in other States than his own. Whether the principle he affirms would apply to the particular facts of that case in this country 19 would be a question for consideration if the case arose. It might be that the course of business, by giving opportunities *599 of examination to the immediate purchaser or otherwise, prevented the relation between manufacturer and the user of the car being so close as to create a duty. But the American decision would undoubtedly lead to a decision in favour of the pursuer in the present case. FN133 217 N. Y. 382. My Lords, if your Lordships accept the view that this pleading discloses a relevant cause of action you will be affirming the proposition that by Scots and English law alike 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 reasonable possibility of intermediate examination, and with 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. It is a proposition which I venture to say no one in Scotland or England who was not a lawyer would for one moment doubt. It will be an advantage to make it clear that the law in this matter, as in most others, is in accordance with sound common sense. I think that this appeal should be allowed. Repr
esentation Agents for the appellant: Horner & Horner, for W. G. Leechman & Co., Glasgow and Edinburgh. Agents for the respondent: Lawrence Jones & Co., for Niven, Macniven & Co., Glasgow, and Macpherson & Mackay, W.S., Edinburgh. Interlocutor of the Second Division of the Court of Session in Scotland reversed and interlocutor of the Lord Ordinary restored. Cause remitted back to the Court of Session in Scotland to do therein as shall be just and consistent with this judgment. The respondent to pay to the appellant the costs of the action in the Inner House and also the costs incurred by her in respect of the appeal to this House, such last mentioned costs to be taxed in the manner usual when the appellant sues in forma pauperis. Lords’ Journals, May 26, 1932. (c) Incorporated Council of Law Reporting For England & Wales [1932] A.C. 562

Order a unique copy of this paper
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
$26
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Urgency

Order your essay today and save 7% with the discount code RBEST7