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Richard Lynagh KC & James Medd successfully defend a claim under the Consumer Protection Act

Richard Lynagh KC and James Medd, instructed by Kennedys, successfully defended a claim brought against Halfords Limited under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

The Claimant had alleged that the steerer tube of a bicycle sold to him by Halfords had failed after only 9 months of normal use, causing him very serious injuries. The Claimant’s engineering expert had advanced a theory as to what the defect was but this was largely abandoned by the Claimant after cross-examination. The Court accepted the evidence of the Defendant’s engineering expert Dr Shaun Crofton and of a single joint expert fractographer that the Claimant’s steerer tube must have been bent in a previous incident, whereafter an attempt had been made to straighten it. This had resulted in weakening of the tube which then fractured in the final crash. The claim therefore had to fail.

However, the Court did accept the Claimant’s argument that the Claimant did not have to prove a specific defect to succeed under the CPA. This is consistent with the previous Court of Appeal decision in another case involving bicycles in which Richard Lynagh KC had appeared, namely Alan Ide v ATB Sales Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 424.

In addition, the Court accepted that, by virtue of Section 4, there was a burden on the Defendant to prove that the defect was not present at date of supply. The combined effect of these two principles might be thought to impose a particularly onerous burden on a Defendant to a claim under the Act: namely to prove both the nature and cause of the defect and that it was not present at the date of supply.


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