G W Atkins Ltd v Scott: CA 1980

A building owner complained of defective tiling installed by the appellant. He claimed the cost of retiling the whole roof. The county court judge found that the tiling was defective, but that the defects were mostly cosmetic and of a minor character. He refused to give the plaintiff the cost of reinstatement, but awarded instead the sum of andpound;250 as damages for bad workmanship. The defects as not being very serious, and accordingly that it would be unreasonable to go to the expense of completely stripping the tiles.
Held: The appeal failed.
Sir David Cairns said that the judge’s finding that it would be unreasonable to award the cost of reinstatement was not open to attack on appeal: ‘[Counsel for the defendant] accepts that in some cases it would be grossly unreasonable, or capricious, or perverse, to suggest reinstatement and that in such a case some other basis of assessment must be found. I confess that I can see no reason in principle, nor any support in the authorities, for the proposition that the test is other than lack of reasonableness simpliciter . .’
Ackner LJ said: ‘I accept that the court must have some regard for the predilections of the building owner, but that is only one of the factors. To take a wholly fanciful example; the half round tiles at the edge of the bath . . were white. They did not match the tiles as they should have done. If, for the purpose of this argument, they could only have been removed and replaced by the removal of all the tiles in the bathroom at a cost of several hundred pounds, would it have been reasonable for the plaintiff to have required this to be done? [Counsel for the defendant] contends that his client is entitled to say, ‘I want what I bargained for. What you have done is unacceptable to me.’ Such an approach seems to me to make his client the sole arbiter of what is ‘reasonable.”
Stephenson LJ agreed with both judgments.


Stephenson LJ, Ackner LJ, Sir David Cairns


(1980) 7 Const LJ 215


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedRuxley Electronics and Construction Ltd v Forsyth HL 29-Jun-1995
Damages on Construction not as Agreed
The appellant had contracted to build a swimming pool for the respondent, but, after agreeing to alter the specification to construct it to a certain depth, in fact built it to the original lesser depth, Damages had been awarded to the house owner . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Construction, Damages

Updated: 08 May 2022; Ref: scu.526103