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Smith v Bush

[1990] 1 AC 831

Case summary last updated at 19/01/2020 12:26 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Smith v Bush

P had a contract with D for D to value his house. D inserted a clause that he would not be liable for his actions in the course of his work. D incorrectly valued the house, causing P loss. HL ruled that D had a duty of care to P and the disclaimer of liability was ineffective due to UCTA and did not shield D from liability. 
Lord Templeman: In this case, following Lord Devlin’s guidelines in Hedly Byrne, this is a case “akin to contract”. He follows the same lines as Lord Reid in Hedley since the valuer knows his advice will be relied on by the parties and can only escape tortious duty to use reasonable skill by a VALID term excluding it.  
Lord Griffiths: Conditions when the surveyor here can be held to have a duty in tort: “If the valuation is negligent, and is relied upon, damage in the form of economic loss to the purchaser is obviously foreseeable. The necessary proximity arises from the surveyor's knowledge that the overwhelming probability is that the purchaser will rely upon his valuation…and the fact that the surveyor only obtains the work because the purchaser is willing to pay his fee. It is just and reasonable that the duty should be imposed for the advice is given in a professional as opposed to a social context and liability for breach of the duty will be limited both as to its extent and amount.” Liability is limited to the D and not subsequent buyers. He said the use of the concept of “assumption of responsibility” was “unlikely to be a helpful or realistic test in most cases”. 

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