Fitness for purpose

Two fitness for purpose cases came out of the courts last week. They don't come up very often.

BSS Group Plc v Makers (UK) Ltd (t/a Allied Services)
Trebor Bassett Holdings Ltd & Anor v ADT Fire and security Plc

In BSS the a valve and adaptor were not compatible with the Uponor piping system in which they were to be used. The piping burst causing substantial damage to the pub premises. The purchaser claimed for damages under section 14(3) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 which protects against unfitness for the particular purpose required by the purchaser. The purchaser had made its particular purpose known to the seller and was successful in its claim both in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. In addition, the seller was a specialist and the purchaser was entitled to rely on its skill and judgment.

The purchaser in Trebor had decided to purchase a particular CO2 fire extinguishing system having already installed one in another factory. Because of the installation service element it claimed under Section 4 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. The court found that the purchaser had not made its particular purpose known to th seller nor could it be inferred that the purchaser sought or relied on the skill and judgement of the seller so lost its action.

The statutory terms can be excluded or made more onerous by seller and buyer respectively if contracts are carefully drawn up.

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