Langridge v Levy

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Citation: Langridge v Levy 2 Meeson & Welsby 519 (1837)

This information can be found in the Textbook: Prue Vines, Law and Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System, (2nd ed, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 363-6.

Contents

Background facts

  • The Plaintiff [Langridge] received a gun from his father. His father bought the gun from the Defendant [Levy].
  • The Defendant told the Plaintiff's father the gun was of high quality.
  • The Defendant was told that the gun was for the use of the Plaintiff.
  • The gun was defective, exploded and blew off the son's hand.

Argument

  • Even if there was no contract between the two parties, the law imposed upon the Defendant a duty of reasonable care to ensure that his supplied product would not cause the Plaintiff harm.
  • This is all the more so because the Defendant knew the gun was defective, knew it was for the use of the son, and because the commodity (the gun) is a dangerous article.

Defence

  • The gun was delivered to the Plaintiff’s father unloaded. The instrument was not at the time actually dangerous.
  • The damage done must be a proximate consequence from the act of the Defendant – there was no contract here between the Defendant and the Plaintiff.
  • If duty was extended towards the Plaintiff (ie, beyond the usual privity of contract), an indefinite amount of people could sue (open the floodgates).

Legal issues

Judgment

  • Can't sue in contract, because there was no privity between the plaintiff and the defendant.
  • The plaintiff’s argument is rejected in favour of the defendant’s argument that the imposition of such a duty of care would open the floodgates and allow for indeterminate and infinite liability.
  • However, there was a false representation here that the gun was safe, and that is fraud.
  • The damage from the fraud is not remote and consequential, but easily foreseeable by the Defendant - the Defendant knew that the gun was to be used by the Plaintiff. He sold the gun for the purpose.
    • For that reason, the Plaintiff is allowed to sue in fraud.
  • The Plaintiff wins on the basis of fraud.

References

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