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Hardwick Game Farm v Suffolk, [1969] 2 AC 31


P raising birds, a lot died due to an epidemic (a poison in the food). It was a product sold by description


Is the contaminated ingredient merchantable?

Was the feed fit for purpose?


Under SGA s. 15(2), merchantable quality means nothing more than the product is commercially saleable.
s.15(2) is more general of (2) and (1). Depending on description contained in K it may be that only 1 quality of goods meets description, or it may mean that there are several qualities of goods that meet the description, in which case the lowest quality commonly sold is what is meant by merchantable quality

If a particular purpose is made known, that is sufficient to raise the inference that the buyer relies (partial reliance is sufficient) on the seller’s skill and judgment unless there is something to displace the inference
**There is no need for a buyer formally to “make known” that which is already known
**Reliance on the part of the buyer is assumed where the seller knows the buyer has a particular purpose.


Subsection (4) applies to all sales by description where seller deals in those goods – then it is a condition that the goods be of merchantable quality. Merchantable means commercially saleable = the goods in the form in which they were tendered were of no use for any purpose for which such goods would normally be used and hence were not saleable under that description.

If description in K was so limited that goods sold under it would normally be used only for 1 purpose, then the goods would be unmerchantable under than description. BUT if description general that goods could be used for many purposes, then goods merchantable if they are fit for 1 of those purposes.
Goods must be both merchantable and fit the specific description.

Particular purpose = given purpose known or communicated (may not be distinct form general purpose) - Not necessarily narrow or particularized purpose


The contaminated ingredient is merchantable bc some buyers are ready to buy them and pay the market price for them - Even though fatal when birds ate it, there was a market for cattle feed (Was merchantable bc could be used by some buyers when sold in ordinary description)

The feed was not fit for purpose


In determining whether a product is fit for purpose intended the unsuitability of the product is gauged against gravity of the consequences – and there seem to be an assumption of reliance whenever seller knows that there is a general or particular purpose

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