Chaudry v Prabhakar – 1989

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Chaudry v Prabhakar [1989] 1 WLR 29.

DUTY OF CARE – RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TORT AND CONTRACT

Facts

The plaintiff was seeking to purchase a car and asked the defendant, her friend, to assist her on the basis that he claimed to be knowledgeable on the subject. She purchased a car on the recommendation of the defendant. The car had visible damage, however the defendant did not enquire about the cause of this to the seller, and simply informed the plaintiff that he was sure it had not been in any accidents. It later transpired that the car was badly unroadworthy due to damage caused in a serious previous accident. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant owed a duty of care in the provision of the advice which he had offered and had negligently breached this duty.

Issue

The issue was whether the defendant owed a duty of care to his friend for the provision of advice on a non-contractual and informal basis.

Held

The Court of Appeal held that a duty of care did exist as the defendant was aware that the plaintiff had relied on his advice, and had done so on the basis that he had held himself out as being knowledgeable about cars.

However, the decision has been criticised as it appears to contradict numerous dicta of the House of Lords in Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd [1964] AC 465, which suggest that a duty of care only arises in relation to advice given in a professional or business context.

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