Griffiths v Peter Conway Ltd (1939): A Summary

Griffiths v Peter Conway

Case name & citation: Griffiths v Peter Conway Ltd [1939] 1 All ER 685

Jurisdiction: England, UK

Year of the case: 1939

Area of law: Implied Term as to fitness for a particular purpose

What is the case about?

The case of Griffiths v Peter Conway Ltd (1939) deals with a situation where a seller is sought to be held liable for the violation of Section 14(3) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

Facts of the case (Griffiths v Peter Conway)

The claimant purchased from the defendants a Harris tweed coat. The purchase was made without disclosing that she had particularly sensitive skin. After a brief period of wearing the coat, she developed dermatitis.

The claimant filed a lawsuit against the defendant sellers arguing that she bought the coat with the expectation that it would meet her needs and be safe for her to wear.

Issue raised

Is it possible that the seller is responsible for the skin damage that was sustained by the plaintiff as a result of wearing the coat?

Judgment of the Court in Griffiths v Peter Conway

The claimant’s attempt to claim damages under Section 14(3) was unsuccessful. It was demonstrated that a person with normal skin would not have been affected by the coat. The fact that the claimant had unusually sensitive skin had not been brought to the attention of the defendants by the claimant.

Governing section behind the decision

Section 14(3) says that if the seller sells goods as part of a business and the buyer informs the seller, either directly or by implication, what the goods will be used for, there is an implied condition that the goods are reasonably fit for that purpose unless it can be shown that the buyer did not rely on the seller’s skill and judgment, or that it would be unreasonable for him to do so.

If the buyer specifies the particular purpose for which he requires the goods (for example, shoes suitable for running in a marathon), then the goods must be suitable for the stated purpose in order to satisfy the requirements of the buyer.

When the buyer purchases goods for only one typical reason, he makes his purpose known by implication rather than explicitly stating it. For example, food must be safe for consumption, and clothing must be appropriate for use.

But it is up to the buyer to make sure that the seller is made aware of any specific requirements that they may have.

Why was Section 14(3) not resorted to?

In the given case, the Court determined that the defendant sellers were not aware of the plaintiff’s unusually sensitive skin. Furthermore, the defendants could not be expected to assume the existence of such skin, and the plaintiff made no mention of it either. Neither of these two factors helped the plaintiff’s case. The coat would not have had an impact on other individuals. Due to the fact that these factors were taken into consideration, the judge came to the conclusion that the seller had not violated subsection 14(3) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

The legal point highlighted in “Griffiths v Peter Conway”

If there are special requirements regarding the use of the goods, they must be made known.

List of references:


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