Louis C Edwards (Manchester) Limited v Charles Miller: CA 1981

A local County Council asked for tenders for meat. It specified the maximum depth of subcutaneous fat of pork. A school cook ordered pork without making any reference to the depth of the fat. A quantity of pork was thereafter delivered. The pork did not meet the specifications. The Appellant meat suppliers were convicted of an offence contrary section 1(1)(b).
Held: Appeal dismissed. ‘Mr Nowell [council for the Appellant] says that these goods were supplied in pursuance of a request by Mrs Dowdell and that the only trade description used was that to be found in the express terms of her request. The justices have found that the request is contained in the contract, and that is certainly a possible view, bearing in mind that the contract contemplates that there will be individual requests. An alternative view is that the request is really to be found in Mrs Dowdell’s order given against the matrix of a standing contract to supply pork in accordance with its specification. Either way the section would apply to produce a deemed application of a trade description, and either way the justices would be correct in convicting. It is said that this case is of interest because it is the first case to come to this court in which the prosecuting authority has attempted to use the Trade Descriptions Act in circumstances in which they might have been expected merely to deal with the matter by seeking damages for breach of contract. Mr Nowell says that if they are right in this case, the rather surprising consequence will flow that in every case where there is a breach of commercial contract for the supply of goods which do not meet the contractual trade description, there will not be only a civil remedy, but also a criminal remedy. I agree that if that is so, it is a slightly surprising result, but I think that proposition is subject to two comments. The first comment is that it is not every breach of contract which gives rise to a right to damages. … The second comment is that I am not at present convinced, and certainly I would prefer the matter to be fully argued on a different occasion, that where there is a firm contract for the supply of a defined quantity of described goods so that the goods are supplied in response to a contractual obligation without any supplementary request, Section 4(3) will necessarily apply. This particular case is one in which there was a standing contract which only required goods to be supplied if there was a request, and in that situation I have no doubt that Section 1(1)(b) applies by operation of Section 4(3). In my judgment, the justices here were correct in their decision.’


Donaldson LJ


[1981] The Monthly Review Vol 89 240


Trade Descriptions Act 1968 1(1)(b) 4(3)


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Ford Motor Company Limited QBD 1974
The alleged false trade description was that a car supplied to a garage was ‘new’, as ordered from Fords.
Held: (Appeal allowed on other grounds) The effect of the order was that Parkway was seeking the supply from Fords of a ‘new vehicle’. . .

Cited by:

CitedShropshire County Council (David Walker) v Simon Dudley Limited Admn 17-Dec-1996
A customer’s description of the goods he required was a trade description for the future supply of those goods by the seller claiming to fulfil that specification. The trading standards officer appealed dismissal of his prosecution of the defendant . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 21 April 2022; Ref: scu.194022