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Victoria Laundry v Newman Industries

[1949] 2 KB 528

Case summary last updated at 04/01/2020 13:03 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Victoria Laundry v Newman Industries

P contracted to buy a boiler off D and D delayed in delivering the boiler by 5 months. As a result P lost out on contracts for which it sued D. D knew that P ran a laundry and that P had asked for the boiler to be delivered ASAP. Thus the CA held that D was liable for profits that would ordinarily have been lost in the period and the loss was not too remote. However D was NOT liable for the loss of a specific contract that would have been v profitable on the grounds that it was not foreseeable to P. 

Asquith LJ: Certain propositions of law are applicable to this case: (1) that the law aims to put P in a position akin to that which he would have been in had there been no breach; (2) that the harm caused by D has to be “reasonably foreseeable” i.e. not too remote, which is determined by the knowledge of the parties at the time of the breach; (3) D is imputed to have common knowledge of the ordinary course of things (e.g. that a laundry company needs a boiler), whether they in fact know this or not; (4) So long as the loss caused by the breach can be reasonably foreseen as a “serious possibility” or a “real danger” or “on the cards” then D can be liable: actual knowledge is not needed. In this case D did, or ought to have known that the laundry needed the boilers for its business and it needed them ASAP. Also the risk of causing loss was reasonably foreseeable. Thus D is liable. 

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