Hobbs (Farms) Ltd v Baxenden Chemical Co [1992] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 54

Key point

  • A manufacturer has a duty in negligence to warn its customers of defects even when they come to light after the goods are sold

Facts

  • A fire started in C’s barn from a spark and spread to an adjacent hangar owned by C but occupied by a tenant
  • The defective foam insulation on the walls of the barn was highly flammable and caused the fire to spread out of control and to engulf the hangar
  • C sued D, the manufacturer of the foam, for negligent misrepresentation
  • C had been informed by a contractor, who installed the foam between, that it was “self-extinguishing”, relying on information provided by D
  • D knew of the defect later but did not inform the contractor nor C

Held (High Court, Queen’s Bench)

  • D was liable for negligent misrepresentation in tort to C
  • D owed a duty to warn C of the defect in the foam that came to light after they were sold

Deputy Judge Sir Michael Ogden, QC

  • It was foreseeable that statements made to contractors would be passed on to customers and that, if misleading, the customers could suffer loss
  • D’s duty of care did not cease when the goods were sold and if it realised that an omission to warn past customers about potential injury might result in injury to them it must take reasonable steps to warn them, however lacking in negligence it was at the time the goods were sold