Hornal V Neuberger Products Ltd Case Summary

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Annie hired a removal firm, XY & Co, to move the contents of her housein Plymouth to a house which she had bought in Worcester. The removal van and all its contents were destroyed by fire in a layby just outside Exeter. Some time after the loss, Annie was told by an employee of XY & Co that the van had been deliberately set on fire so that XY & Co could claim from their insurers for its loss. Annie is suing XY & Co for the value of her destroyed property, which she estimates to be £250,000. She claims first in respect of their deliberate destruction by the defendants; alternatively, she alleges that they were destroyed by reason of the defendants’ negligence. By their defence, XY & Co deny deliberately setting fire to the van and plead that their contract with Annie had an exclusion clause, which said that they would not be liable for loss by fire provided that their servants were not negligent.…show more content…
Since this is a civil action, all these matters will have to be proved according to ‘the preponderance of probability’ ( Miller v Minister of Pensions (1947)). Even where Annie is alleging matters that would amount to the criminal offence of arson, she does not have to prove them beyond reasonable doubt. In Hornal v Neuberger Products Ltd (1957), the plaintiff was sold a lathe by the defendants. One of their directors was alleged to have stated falsely that the machine had been reconditioned by a named firm. Had this representation been made by the director with knowledge of its falsehood, he would have been guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation. In a civil action for damages for breach of warranty, alternatively for fraud, the trial judge found that the claim in respect of fraud had been proved on the balance of probabilities, but added that he would not have been satisfied had the criminal standard been applicable. The Court of Appeal held that he had correctly applied the civil

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