‘In cases like Hadley v Baxendale or the present case, it is not enough that in fact the plaintiffs loss was directly caused by the defendant’s breach of contract. It clearly was so caused in both. The crucial question is whether …the loss…should have been within his contemplation. The modern rule in tort is quite different and it imposes a much wider liability. The defendant will be liable for any type of damage which is reasonably foreseeable as liable to happen even in the most unusual case…’ (Lord Reid in The Heron II  1 AC 350, p 385). Is Lord Reid accurate; do not most contractors suffering direct damage get compensated? 3 If the vendor could contemplate the illness of the pigs, why not the farmer? If the farmer should have contemplated the illness of the pigs from mouldy nuts, could it not be said that, by continuing to use the nuts after noticing mould, he caused their death? Why could the seller of the hopper not have pleaded contributory negligence? It is these questions that make Parsons v Uttley Ingham an interesting (although by no means leading) case. The facts raise a paradox: if the defendant argues that they could not foresee or contemplate the illness and/or death of the pigs, then they cannot argue that the farmer should have foreseen or contemplated the illness or deaths. Equally, if the farmer claims that the sellers of the hopper should have contemplated the illness or death, then the farmer is leaving himself open to the accusation that he, also, should have contemplated the possibility. This is why it was better to try to argue that the loss was ‘directly and naturally resulting…from the breach of warranty’ (Sale of Goods Act 1979, s 53(2)). 4 If the court had insisted that, before the seller of the hopper could be liable, he must be found to have contemplated the possibility of the death of the pigs from E coli, would the result of the Parsons case have had to be different? Why did the court not insist on this? Does the approach taken in Parsons differ from the approach taken in Jolley v Sutton LBC (p 626)? 5 How much should the farmer in Parsons get for his dead pigs? Should he get (a) the cost of replacing the pigs; (b) the cost of replacing the pigs plus compensation for the trouble and mental distress at seeing, and clearing up, the dead animals; (c) the sale value of the pigs; (d) the sale value plus compensation for mental distress, etc? Does the distinction between damnum emergens and lucrum cessans have any meaning in the Parsons case? 6 What if a neighbouring farmer had borrowed (mouldy) nuts from the hopper: should he be able to sue either the vendor or buyer of the hopper? How much should the neighbouring farmer get if successful?
This was an action for damages brought by the owners of a ship against a
contractor who had agreed to manage the ship but who had caused it to be
wrongfully arrested. The owners incurred heavy interest charges in getting
the ship released and they claimed these charges as damages. The Court of
Appeal held that the interest charges were too remote and unreasonable to