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Simaan v Pilkington Glass [1988] 1 All ER 791

By Oxbridge Law TeamUpdated 04/01/2024 07:04

Judgement for the case Simaan v Pilkington Glass

Table Of Contents

  • Plaintiff was making a building for X and sub contracted the acquisition of some objects for the building to Y. Y purchased defective objects (they turned the wrong colour) from Defendant.

  • X refused to pay Plaintiff for the objects since they were defective and Plaintiff sued Defendant for causing it economic loss. 

  • CA rejected Plaintiff’s claim since:

    1. To allow a claim for pure economic loss there has to be a special relationship between Plaintiff and Defendant

    2. Plaintiff relied on Defendant

    3. That there had been an assumption of responsibility towards Plaintiff on the part of Defendant (none of these were satisfied).

    4. That although there was physical damage to the objects, Plaintiff could not sue on this non-economic front because it had no proprietary interest in the objects.

  • Therefore there was no reason to go round the ordinary liability on contract. 

Bingham LJ

  1. Junior Books only allows economic loss claims in cases of actual physical damage (See Lord Bridge in Murphy), e.g. the damaged floor in that case, but not here where, although the blocks were the wrong colour, they were not damaged.

    • Even if they were damaged, this happened while they were still the property of Defendant and claims for non-economic loss (i.e. normal tort claims) require Plaintiff to have a proprietary or possessory title to the thing damaged.

  2. Therefore the only way of claiming economic loss would be through the Hedley Byrne principle, which doesn’t apply here since the reliance was on Y, not Defendant + Defendant never undertook any responsibility towards Plaintiff.  

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