A more recent version of these Product Liability notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Product Liability Remedies under contract law
If C could show a contractual relationship between himself and D o Then could claim for defective product
? Advantage = C would not be required to show fault of seller
Merely that seller in breach of the term of contract
? Equally, no problem in awarding damage caused by defective property, whether personal or injury
? Will also award compensation for replacement
? And Sales of Goods Act 1979 help with "implied terms"
If you buy something from a shop, there is a contract with implied terms that o Product will be of satisfactory quality o And fit for purpose o Disadvantages of relying on contract law for remedy are many:
? Must be a term in contract which provides products should not be defective
? Subject to Contract (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, Privity rules stop third parties from claiming and taking advantage of terms contracted between parties.
? Seller may exclude liability for the breach owing to exemption clauses
Although Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 does help to negate this problem
? Chain of contracts between parties mean liability will eventually flow back to the manufacturer
BUT chain can be easily broken by exemption clauses or insolvency of one of the parties, meaning claim may fall arbitrarily on one party in the chain, regardless of fact it is manufacturer's fault. Remedies under Tort law - negligence
Before developments in the law, only if product was inherently dangerous (e.g. dynamite) and classified as such would M owe duty to warn recipient of the danger o Scrutton LJ: shouldn't be a difference between "dangerous" products (e.g. poison) and products which by negligent construction become dangerous
? The latter is probably more dangerous because it is a wolf in sheep's clothing
rather than an obvious wolf like the former
Donoghue v Stevenson : o Lord Buckmaster (dis):
? Breach of D's contract with A to use care and skill in and about the manufacture or repair of an article
does not of itself give any cause of action to B. o when he is injured by reason of the article proving to be defective
? Exceptions to the rule exist
When product is inherently dangerous and B comes to harm owing to A not taking reasonable care during manufacture
When product is not inherently dangerous and B comes to harm owing to A failing to disclose a known defect.
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