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Distillers V. Thompson Notes

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DISTILLERS V. THOMPSON FACTS The appellants are the first defendants, the Distillers Company (Biochemicals) Ltd., who are an English company and not in any sense resident in New South Wales. The plaintiff has proceeded against them by virtue of section 18 of the Act of 1899 in an action against a person not resident within the jurisdiction of the court. If the defendant does not appear to the writ of summons within the time prescribed, a judge, upon being satisfied:- (a) that there is a cause of action which arose within the jurisdiction or in respect of the breach of a contract made within the jurisdiction: and (b) that service of the writ or notice thereof, as the case may be, was duly effected or that the writ or the notice thereof came to the defendant's knowledge, may, if he thinks fit, by order, permit the plaintiff to proceed to sign final or interlocutory judgment in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed or as he in all the circumstances may deem fit. The English company is incorporated in Great Britain where it has its registered office and carries on business. As part of its activities it manufactures pharmaceutical preparations. Some of its preparations contain thalidomide, a substance which the English company obtains in bulk from German manufacturers. The company's products are sold in Australia but not by it. The secondnamed defendant (called the Australian company) markets and sells the products in Australia. One of the products manufactured by the English company and distributed in Australia by the Australian company was a sedative and sleep-inducing drug, the principal ingredient of which is thalidomide, this was marketed under the name Distaval. They are sold to the Australian company in the form in which they are to reach the ultimate consumer. The plaintiff, an infant, sues by her next friend, her father. Her mother says that in August 1961 when she was pregnant with the plaintiff her doctor prescribed for her Distaval and this she took. Her child, the plaintiff, was born on April 10, 1962, without arms and with defective eyesight. It is claimed on her behalf that the drug thalidomide has a harmful effect on the foetus of an unborn child during the first three months of pregnancy and that as a result she was born malformed and with defective vision. The second-named defendant, the Australian company, is sued as the distributor of the preparation Distaval in New South Wales. QUESTION

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