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A rare decision on Product Liability was announced recently at Hamilton Sheriff Court in relation to the case of MacMillan v De Vere Group Limited and Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc. The decision is unusual as there are not many reported cases on whether or not a product is defective under the terms of the Consumer Protection Act.
The case concerned a bottle of own brand vodka. Such bottles are fitted with roll-on-pilfer-proof, “ROPP”, closures, which facilitate repeated opening and resealing of the bottle after initial opening. Many millions of bottles fitted with ROPP closures are produced and sold each year by the United Kingdom spirits industry.
On 7 December 2006, the Pursuer, MacMillan, having poured a drink, over tightened the cap and deformed it by partially stripping the threads inside it. On pouring a second drink, the pursuer sustained an injury to his right hand when he tried, unsuccessfully, to catch the bottle which he claimed had become detached from the cap and smashed on the floor of the kitchen in his home.
The pursuer maintained that the accident would not have occurred but for an alleged defect in the design of the ROPP product and he sought damages from the defenders in respect of the resultant loss he maintains he suffered.
Tony Jones said: “This decision concludes that the design of ROPP closures is not defective. The case is important as the impact of an adverse judgment would have been felt across the entire drinks industry. We are delighted with the result.”