By Bronia Hartley
Homebase Ltd v Jeyakanthan Rengasamy  EWHC 68 2 (QB)
In this case the claimant had fallen off a ladder which had been purchased from the company. The claim was in the region of £31,000 and was based on the company’s breach of the implied term as to satisfactory quality under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 s14(2).
Both parties instructed engineers to inspect the ladder and they prepared a joint statement. They agreed that the claimant’s injuries were consistent with either the ladder collapsing with him on it or him falling off the ladder and the ladder then falling to the ground and him landing on top of it. They disagreed, however, as to which scenario was more likely.
The judge refused permission for the parties’ engineering experts to give oral evidence at trial. The defendant retail company appealed the decision.
It was held that:
- Whilst the court fully supported the judge’s attempts to address proportionality in terms of the time and costs of the trial, the parties had already embarked on a process which allowed them to adduce expert evidence at trial.
- The evidence was critical and the experts differed. Without hearing oral evidence the court would not have the opportunity to see which expert’s evidence was more reliable.
- The court was not satisfied that the judge had taken into account the way in which the expert evidence could contribute to the case.