Note: this is a UK case.
- The Plaintiff (Chaudhary) asked her friend, the Defendant (Prabahkar), to help her find a new car, because he knew a lot about cars (although he was not a mechanic).
- She said it was important it had not been in an accident.
- The Defendant agreed to do so for free, because they were close friends.
- Acting as her agent, the Defendant inspected a car. He noticed the bonnet had signs of damage but did not enquire further.
- The Defendant recommended that the Plaintiff purchase the car, saying it had never been in an accident, the seller was a friend and she need not get a mechanic to look at it (all wrong).
- The Plaintiff did so, but it turned out the car had been in an accident and was worthless and unroadworthy.
- The Plaintiff sued the Defendant.
- The Defendant argued the standard of care should be lower because he acted for free.
- What was the correct standard of care in this case?
- The Court discussed the issue of duty of care and held that the standard must be an objective one that is reasonably expected of him in all the circumstances.
- The fact that there was an agency relationship shows there was some business element; this can be distinguished from where informal advice is given in a social setting.
- In this case, he knew that she was relying on him and he had represented himself as having a certain level of knowledge. The standard of care was at least that level of knowledge.
- The Court held that he had fallen below this standard of care by failing to inquire about whether the car had been in an accident (even after seeing signs of damage) and lying to his friend.
- There was negligence and P owed D.
“Thus, in my view, in the absence of other factors giving rise to such a duty, the giving of advice sought in the context of family, domestic or social relationships will not in itself give rise to any duty in respect of such advice… This problem does not arise in this case because of the concession referred to that the duty of care did exist” (Stuart-Smith LJ)
“It seems to me that all the necessary ingredients are here present. The plaintiff clearly relied upon the first defendant’s skill and judgment, and, although it may not have been great, it was greater than hers and was quite sufficient for the purpose of asking the appropriate questions of the second defendant. The first defendant also knew that the plaintiff was relying on him; indeed he told her that she did not need to have it inspected by a mechanic and she did not do so on the strength of his recommendation. It was clearly in a business connection, because he knew that she was there and then going to commit herself to buying the car for £4,500 through his agency” (Stocker LJ)
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