A hairdresser made a contract with a distributor (Ogee Ltd.) to purchase hair dye. It was said that the hair dye must not contain more than 4% chromic acid, however this was not placed in writing. The distributor did not test the product, and gave it to a client (Watson) to use stating that it was perfectly safe as the distributor had told her. As it happened, the product contained 10% chromic acid and Watson developed dermatitis as a result. He sued the distributor even though the error occurred in the manufacture.
- Does the distributor owe a duty of care to the end user of a product that they promote, even if they do not manufacture it?
Judgment for the plaintiff.
Stable states that the distributor must be held liable because a duty was indeed owed to the end user and they were careless to promote the product as safe without having tested it. The initial tortious act was putting more acid in the dye, however the distributor cannot escape liability for their carelessness simply by stating that they were not the original creators of the negligence. They knew that their product was designed to be used by the end users, and therefore they owed a duty of care to reasonable insure that the product was safe, which they failed to uphold. Stable also finds that Watson would have been successful in an action against the manufacturer.
Omissions, as well as actions, can result in liability in negligence.
This Decision extends Donoghue v Stevenson, stating that distributors, as well as manufacturers, owe the final consumer a duty of care