Christopher Hill Ltd v Ashington Piggeries Ltd: HL 1972

Mink farmers had asked a compounder of animal foods to make up mink food to a supplied formula.
Held: There was reliance as to the suitability of the ingredients only.
Lord Diplock said: ‘Unless the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is to be allowed to fossilise the law and to restrict the freedom of choice of parties to contracts for the sale of goods to make agreements which take account of advances in technology and changes in the way in which business is carried on today, the provisions set out in the various sections and subsections of the code ought not to be construed so narrowly as to force upon parties to contracts for the sale of goods promises and consequences different from what they must reasonably have intended. They should be treated rather as illustrations of the application to simple types of contract of general principles for ascertaining the common intention of the parties as to their mutual promises and their consequences, which ought to be applied by analogy in cases arising out of contracts which do not appear to have been within the immediate contemplation of the draftsman of the Act in 1893.’ and
‘Because of the source of the rules stated in the Sale of Goods Act 1893 the classification adopted is by reference to the promises made in relatively simple types of contracts for the sale of goods which were commonly made in the 19th century and had been the subject of judicial decision before 1893.’
Viscount Dilhorne said: ‘I regard it as almost unarguable that a person who goes into a shop and asks for a food for feeding to animals has not made known the particular purpose for which he is requiring the food and that he has only made known the particular purpose if he specifies the variety or varieties of animals he wants to feed.’
Lord Guest distinguished between a dealer in the way of business as opposed to when a seller sold goods in a private capacity.
Lord Wilberforce said: ‘But, moreover, consideration with the preceding common law shows that what the Act had in mind was something quite simple and rational: to limit the implied conditions of fitness or quality to persons in the way of business, as distinct from private persons.’ and ‘I would have no difficulty in holding that a seller deals in goods ‘of that description’ if he accepts orders to supply them in the way of business and this whether or not he has previously accepted orders for goods of that description.’
and ‘Equally I think it is clear (as both courts have found) that there was reliance on the respondents’ skill and judgment. Although the Act [ie section 14(1) of the Sale of Goods Act 1893] makes no reference to partial reliance, it was settled, well before the Cammell Laird case [1934] AC 402 was decided in this House, that there may be cases where the buyer relies on his own skill or judgment for some purposes and on that of the seller for others. This House gave that principle emphatic endorsement.’


Lord Diplock, Lord Wilberforce, Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Guest


[1972] AC 441


Sale of Goods Act 1893 14(1)


England and Wales


Appeal fromChristopher Hill Ltd v Ashington Piggeries Ltd CA 1969
The buyer suppied a food formula to a food mixer and claimed damages when the food mix injured his mink. The defendant argued that the level of damages sought exceeded that expectations of the parties when the contract was entered into.
Held: . .

Cited by:

CitedHamilton v Papakura District Council and Watercare Services Ltd PC 28-Feb-2002
(New Zealand) The claimants sought damages. The water authority had put in the water supply herbicides which damaged the crops they sought to grow, and which were watered from the supply. The plants were particularly sensitive to such chemicals.
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Health ex parte Quintavalle (on behalf of Pro-Life Alliance) HL 13-Mar-2003
Court to seek and Apply Parliamentary Intention
The appellant challenged the practice of permitting cell nuclear replacement (CNR), saying it was either outside the scope of the Act, or was for a purpose which could not be licensed under the Act.
Held: The challenge failed. The court was to . .
CitedStevenson and Another v Rogers CA 8-Dec-1998
The defendant, who carried on the business of a fisherman, sold his vessel Jelle to the plaintiff with a view to having a new boat built to his requirements. In the event he bought a replacement vessel which he continued to use for his business. The . .
CitedJewson Limited v Boyhan as Personal Representative of the Estate of Thomas Michael Kelly CA 28-Jul-2003
The company appealed a finding that it was in breach of the 1979 Act. The deceased had bought boilers from the appellant. They were said not to be satisfactory, in that they were not as energy efficient as they had been described to be.
Held: . .
CitedTransfield Shipping Inc of Panama v Mercator Shipping Inc of Monrovia ComC 1-Dec-2006
The owners made substantial losses after the charterers breached the contract by failing to redliver the ship on time as agreed.
Held: On the facts found the Owners’ primary claim is not too remote. To the knowledge of the Charterers, it was . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Damages

Updated: 12 May 2022; Ref: scu.180097