When a leather testing company negligently made incorrect representations that a chemical used to prevent mould forming on leather furniture was safe, it became liable to the retailers who then sold the furniture for the damages they had to pay to customers who were injured by the chemicals used.
The compound caused respiratory problems and skin irritation in thousands of users of the furniture. In all, more than £17 million was paid in compensation.
Four companies, led by Argos and Homebase, took action.
The High Court ruled that the defendant company had a clear duty of care to the buying companies and had given its advice negligently. It had done inadequate research on the chemical, which is banned for use in the European Union, a fact that the supplier should have known.
The case underlines the importance of making sure that where services are supplied, proper professional standards are observed.
Contact Matthew Sidebottom for advice on any commercial dispute.