Matthew Turner represents injured actor in successful product liability claim

Matthew Turner acted for the successful claimant in the recent case of Oliver v Acia Bathrooms Limited.

Mr Oliver, an actor and photographer, purchased a bath shower screen online from the defendant in early 2018 and installed it himself in accordance with the instruction manual. The defendant imported all of its products from China, where they were manufactured and packaged. It did not test or inspect the products when they arrived in the UK, but shipped them directly to customers.

On 23rd April 2018, whilst Mr Oliver was taking a shower, the screen collapsed and shattered, causing personal injury and property damage. In particular, he sustained serious laceration injuries to his left hand and right foot, and his bath and bathroom tiles were damaged.

The claim was brought via three routes:

  1. Breach of contract - the product was not of satisfactory quality nor fit for purpose, contrary to the terms implied by sections 9 and 10 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015).

  2. Breach of statutory duty - the damage was caused by a defect in the product, contrary to section 2 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA 1987).

  3. Negligence at common law – the defendant failed to carry out any tests or investigations despite being on notice – through reviews and complaints - that there may have been problems with its products.

As to the second route, the Claimant relied on the principle in Baker v KTM Sportmotorcycle UK Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 378 (applying Ide v ATB Sales Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 424): namely, that he did not need to identify a specific defect or mechanism of failure and the court may find a product defective if it failed in use where there is no other plausible explanation.

The trial took place before Recorder Goudie QC in Central London County Court.

Despite the defendant’s submissions that Mr Oliver was an unreliable witness, the Judge accepted his evidence and found that he had correctly installed the screen. On this basis, and applying the principle in Baker, the product was defective. There was no other plausible explanation for its collapse. For the same reason, it was not of satisfactory quality nor fit for purpose. Consequently, the claim succeeded via the first and second routes.

The Judge awarded damages for the PSLA as well as the costs of repairing the damage to the bathroom. As the award exceeded the Claimant’s pre-issue Part 36 offer, he also received Part 36 costs.

The Claimant was represented by Matthew Turner instructed by Caroline Billis of McKeag & Co Solicitors.

The Health and Human Rights team at Doughty Street has extensive experience of product liability claims – including medical products – and welcomes instructions in this area.