Each appellant challenged how the judge had decided between alternative proofs of causation of the respective loss. In Ide, the claimant asserted a fault in a cycle handlebar, and in Lexus, the claimant asserted that it caught fire whilst unattended. The appellants each said that the respective judges had made the mistake of logic identified in the Popi M in accepting the only explanation left after discarding those he did not accept.
Held: The appeals failed. These were not Popi M cases. It had been correct to seek to identify the most probable cause. ‘As a matter of common sense it will usually be safe for a judge to conclude, where there are two competing theories before him neither of which is improbable, that having rejected one it is logical to accept the other as being the cause on the balance of probabilities. It was accepted in the course of argument on behalf of the appellant that, as a matter of principle, if there were only three possible causes of an event, then it was permissible for a judge to approach the matter by analysing each of those causes. If he ranked those causes in terms of probability and concluded that one was more probable than the others, then, provided those were the only three possible causes, he was entitled to conclude that the one he considered most probable, was the probable cause of the event provided it was not improbable.’
Thomas LJ, Ward LJ, Dyson LJ
 EWCA Civ 424
Consumer Protection Act 1987 2 3
England and Wales
Explained – Rhesa Shipping Co SA v Edmonds (The Popi M) HL 16-May-1985
The Popi M sank in calm seas and fair weather as a result of a large and sudden entry of water into her engine room through her shell plating. The vessel’s owners claimed against her hull and machinery underwriters, contending that the loss was . .
Cited – The Popi M; Rhesa Shipping Co SA v Edmonds 1983
The parties disputed the cause of the loss of a ship. The experts suggested different but improbably explanations; each supported as the most likely explanation only because any other hypothesis was regarded as almost (if not altogether) impossible. . .
Cited – Datec Electronics Holdings Ltd and others v United Parcels Services Ltd HL 16-May-2007
The defendants had taken on the delivery of a quantity of the claimant’s computers. The equipment reached one depot, but then was lost or stolen. The parties disputed whether the Convention rules applied. UPS said that the claimant had agreed that . .
Cited – Moiz Ahmed Siddiqui, Ishrat Siddiqui/Bhajan Singh Sohanpal v Council of the London Borough of Hillingdon TCC 15-Apr-2003
The claimants sought damages for cracks in their house caused by the roots of trees on the defendant’s land.
Held: The claimants had failed to establish by evidence that the tree roots were the cause of the damage. The claim failed. . .
Cited – Datec Electronic Holdings Ltd and Another v United Parcels Service Ltd and Another ComC 22-Feb-2005
The claimant sought damages for the loss of goods in transit under the care of the defendant. Andrew Smith J held as regards the burden of proof in an allegation of wilful misconduct: ‘I should add that I was properly reminded by counsel that the . .
Cited – Datec Electronic Holdings Ltd and Another v United Parcels Service Ltd CA 29-Nov-2005
The parties put forward alternative explanations for the loss of a mail packet. Richards LJ said: ‘Nor do I see any inconsistency between my approach and the observations of Lord Brandon in The Popi M. The conclusion that employee theft was the . .
Appeal from – IDE v ATB Sales Ltd QBD 17-Jul-2007
The claimant was injured when he fell from his bicycle. The handlebar was broken. And the parties disputed whether the break was the cause or result of the fall. The handlebar was of an ultra light kind, which the manufacturer recommended was to be . .
Cited – Fosse Motor Engineers Ltd and others v Conde Nast and National Magazine Distributors Ltd and Another TCC 20-Aug-2008
The claimant said that the defendant’s employees had negligently started a fire which burned down the claimant’s warehouse. There was limited evidence to establish the cause.
Held: The claim failed. The scientific evidence did not point to any . .
Cited – Piper v Hales QBD 18-Jan-2013
The claimant owned a very vauable vintage Porsche racing car. It was hired to the defendant. The car suffered severe mechanical damage whilst being driven, and the insurers declined liability.
Held: The Defendant as hirer was under an . .
Cited – Love v Halfords Ltd QBD 8-Apr-2014
The claimant had purchased a new bicycle from the defendants who also maintained it. Several months later, the steerer tube broke causing an accident and severe injury. The cycle had been finally assembled by the defendant after importation, but . .
These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 07 February 2021; Ref: scu.267168