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D & F Estates v Church Commissioners

[1989] AC 177

Case summary last updated at 19/01/2020 15:20 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case D & F Estates v Church Commissioners

Ps had to pay to re-plaster a flat that they had leased upon discovering that D, the owner, had had faulty plastering done, and P sued D for the cost of plastering. HL held that the damage suffered by P was purely economic loss, which was not recoverable under tort. Junior Books was said to be confined to its facts because of the “unique”, albeit non-contractual, relationship of the parties. 
Lord Oliver: Anns is to be confined to cases where the builder’s negligence has caused danger to the health and safety of P: NOT where it has caused pure economic loss, which is only recoverable within the Hedley-Byrne principle.  He also suggested using the ‘complex structures theory’: That a house is a complex structure comprising many different parts, which are each property in their own right. Thus if dodgy foundations (product 1) causes damage to the walls (part 2) there has been property damage and the economic loss is consequential rather than pure. 

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