Chapter 2 Interactive flashcards of key cases

Chapter 2 Interactive flashcards of key cases

The buyer purchased a motor-home from D. It was 102 inches wide, which was two inches wider than that permitted under the relevant road regulations. They had inspected, but not measured, the vehicle before purchase. It was only after they had used the vehicle for about six or seven months that they measured it and found it to be 102 inches wide. It was then some months later that they formally complained about its width. The main issues for the court were whether, because it was too wide to be driven legally on the roads in the UK, it was of satisfactory quality (s 14(2)) and, if not, whether s 14(2C)(b) disentitled them from relying on any such breach that might be found on the ground that they examined it before purchase and that their examination should have revealed its unlawfully excessive width. The seller accepted that the vehicle was in excess of the maximum permitted width and therefore could not be driven lawfully on the roads in the UK. However, they said that the relevant authorities turned a blind eye to such minor infringements of the Regulations.

The Court of Appeal held that the vehicle was of satisfactory quality. Although the test is objective, the reasonable person referred to in s 14(2A) must be one who is in the position of the buyer with knowledge of all relevant background facts. The buyer was knowledgeable about motor-homes and was aware that the authorities turned a blind eye to the illegality. This was a common occurrence. The court also considered (obiter because of the finding that the vehicle was of satisfactory quality) that s 14(2C)(b) would have disentitled the buyer from relying on any breach that might have been found because they had examined the vehicle before purchase and their examination, had they gone on to measure it, should have revealed its unlawfully excessive width.

E purchased an expensive car. He found that it had a tendency to veer to the left and tried to reject it on the ground it was not of satisfactory quality. The judge found that although E perceived that the car was pulling to the left, it handled normally for this kind of vehicle, although the wheel alignment was outside the manufacturer’s specification. As a result, he found that a reasonable person would not have regarded it as unsatisfactory. The vehicle was therefore of satisfactory quality and there was no breach of s 14(2) SGA.

The fact that the vehicle was unsatisfactory to the purchaser is not enough: it is only unsatisfactory for the purposes of s 14(2) SGA if it does not meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory. This is a wholly objective test. As to the defect in the wheel alignment, Smith LJ stated that it was unlikely that a buyer would be entitled to reject goods because of such a minor defect unless they were able to show that a reasonable person would think that the minor defect was of sufficient consequence to render the goods unsatisfactory.

A bottle containing a drink burst, causing injury. It was held that the drink as well as the bottle were ‘supplied’ under a contract of sale and both had to comply with the requirements of s 14 SGA.

The conditions implied by s 14(2) apply not only to the goods bought but also to the ‘goods supplied’ under the contract.

The buyer contracted dermatitis as a result of wearing new woollen underpants which, when purchased from the retailer, were in a defective condition owing to the presence of excess sulphites which had been negligently left in during the process of manufacture. One aspect of the claim was that the garment was not fit for purpose. A question for the court was whether the buyer, either expressly or by implication, had made known any particular purpose for which the goods were bought as was required under s 14(3) SGA.

The reason the purpose needs to be made known to the seller is so as to show that the buyer relies on the seller’s skill or judgement. This reliance must be brought home to the mind of the seller, expressly or by implication. The reliance will seldom be express: it will usually arise by implication from the circumstances. With a purchase made from a retailer, the reliance will in general be inferred from the fact that a buyer goes to the shop in the confidence that the retailer has selected their stock with skill and judgement. There is no need to specify in terms the particular purpose for which the buyer requires the goods if it is the only purpose for which anyone would ordinarily want the goods.

R bought a new Range Rover, which had a number of serious defects on delivery. During a six-month period, he drove the car about 5,500 miles while a number of (generally unsuccessful) attempts were made to rectify the defects. He then brought a claim arguing that the vehicle was neither of satisfactory quality nor fit for purpose.

Where a vehicle is sold as new but is seriously defective, it is not to be taken as being of satisfactory quality or fit for its purpose just because it is capable of being driven and the defects repaired.
The court held that where goods as delivered are defective, they are not of satisfactory quality and do not become so simply because they are capable of being used in some way. The car was not fit for its purpose as R expected and he was entitled to reject it. The Court of Appeal added that when a new car is bought, the purchaser is entitled to get it to give the pleasure, pride, and performance they expected. Defects which might be acceptable in a second-hand vehicle would not be acceptable in a new car.

C ordered a ton of Coalite from D. When it was delivered, she made up a fire. The delivery inadvertently contained an explosive which exploded, causing damage. C claimed that the fuel was not fit for purpose or alternatively that it was not of merchantable quality. It was held that the entire consignment was defective because it was all potentially dangerous.

The words ‘goods supplied’ mean the goods delivered in purported pursuance of the contract. Section 14 SGA applies to all goods supplied, whether or not they conform to the contract. It did not matter that the explosive was not what C had ordered or (in the literal sense) ‘sold’ by D.

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