Case name & citation: Geddling v Marsh. (1920) 1 K.B. 668
The concerned Court: King’s Bench
Year of the case: 1920
Area of law: Implied condition as to the fitness of use
What is the case about?
This case of Geddling v Marsh (1920) illustrates the responsibility of a seller to ensure the quality and fitness of all goods supplied, even a bottle containing water.
Facts of the case (Geddling v Marsh)
The defendants were manufacturers of mineral water and they supplied these products to the plaintiff (a purchaser). The water was delivered in glass bottles which were meant to be returned. One of the bottles was defective, it shattered and the purchaser got injured as a result. It was argued by the purchaser that the products supplied were not fit for purpose.
Issue that arose
Was there a breach of Section 14? Did the seller’s obligation extend to packaging?
Judgment of the Court in Geddling v Marsh
The Court held that even though the water bottles were returnable, they were supplied in connection with a contract of sale, hence, Section 14(3) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 applied. That is to say, the manufacturers were still bound to the implied term that the products including the bottles are reasonably fit for the purpose for which they have been supplied. The duty of the seller extends to all goods supplied under the contract and they include packaging even if it remains the property of the seller.
As a result, the Court held the defendants liable for the injuries sustained by the buyer. They had to bear damages.
The governing rule behind the case
The implied terms in Section 14 concerning fitness and merchantable quality also apply to any additional things supplied with the products as part of a contract of sale, even though such things are returnable to the seller, for example, a glass bottle. Such things can include packaging, boxes, bottles, containers, batteries, tools, and instructions outlining the several uses of the product. All these items should meet the requirements of fitness and quality.
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