Retailers are strictly liable if they sell defective goods to customers who suffer injury as a result. In a good example of that principle being applied, two children who suffered life-changing injuries in a house fire sparked by a defective heater are to receive substantial damages.
The children were aged five and two when the fire broke out. Proceedings were launched on their behalf under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 against the high street retailer from whom their mother had bought the oscillating tower fan heater about two years previously.
In upholding the claims, a judge noted that, by operation of the Act, the retailer was deemed liable for any injury or damage caused by any defect in the heater. In those circumstances, there was no requirement to prove fault on the retailer's part.
The judge concluded on the balance of probabilities that the heater was the source of the fire. Given the ferocity of the blaze, it was unsurprising that it had not been possible to identify a specific defect in the appliance. However, given that the mother had used it entirely normally, it could be inferred that such a defect existed.
The exact amount of compensation due to the injured children has yet to be assessed.