The claimant brought a claim for breach of contract and negligence having been injured when a platform he hired from the defendant toppled over.
The defendant delivered the platform and helped to set it up in the first position from which the claimant was going to use it. Together with the platform, the defendant supplied hard plastic plates, to support the feet of the outriggers of the platform.
After using the platform at the first position, the claimant’s employees moved the platform to another position. Whilst the platform was in use, it overbalanced and toppled over. Subsequent investigations revealed that two outriggers had lifted up from the ground. The claimant submitted that the accident had been caused by defects in the platform and/or instructions which the defendant had given to him in relation to setting up the platform. The defendant asserted that the accident was solely due to errors by the claimant in setting up or operating the platform.
The court found that the platform was specifically designed for use on rough or soft terrain and on slopes and narrow or uneven surfaces, where it was liable to be subjected to lateral forces which could cause a foot, if unrestrained by its bearing plate, to move considerably. The platform should have been provided with bearing plates which were attached to the outrigger feet or so shaped or recessed that the feet were prevented from slipping off the plate.
Since they were not, the court held that the platform supplied by the defendant was not of a satisfactory quality for the purposes of the implied condition contained in the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
Interestingly the judge stated that he was not satisfied on the evidence that the defendant had a separate liability to the claimant in negligence, or that the claimant was negligent in any way.
In the absence of any negligence of the defendant, no question of contributory negligence on behalf of the claimant could arise.