chapter  7
A bottle of orange juice explodes just as a customer in a supermarket is lifting it out of his trolley at the cash desk. The customer is uninjured, but his clothes are covered in orange juice. Do you think that the customer has suffered any damage, over and above the cost of cleaning the clothes? 8 What is the focal point of an action for private nuisance: the persona or the res? 9 A firm of solicitors specialising in defamation is hired by D to threaten one of D’s employees who has complained to the police about D sexually harassing her. The solicitors send a number of letters to the employee stating that the employee’s complaint to the police amounts to defamation and that unless she withdraws her complaint and apologises to D she will be sued for ‘six figure damages’. The employee suffers severe mental anxiety as a result of these solicitors’ letters. Can the employee sue the solicitors and/or D for damages (a) at common law; or (b) under the 1997 Act? Would your answer be different if the solicitors were aware that previous employees had tried to complain about being sexually harassed by D? 10 Can a group of employees harass their employer for better working conditions and/or higher wages? (v) Interests and damage
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Lord Bridge:… I cannot accept that in a contract of this nature, namely for work, labour and the supply of materials, the recovery of more than nominal damages for breach of contract is dependent upon the plaintiff having a proprietary interest in the subject matter of the contract at the date of the breach. In everyday life contracts for work and labour are constantly being placed by those who have no proprietary interest in the subject matter of the contract. To take a common example, the matrimonial home is owned by the wife and the couple’s remaining assets are owned by the husband and he is the sole earner. The house requires a new roof and the husband places a contract with a builder to carry out the work. The husband is not acting as agent for his wife, he makes the contract as principal because only he can pay for it. The builder fails to replace the roof properly and the husband has to call in and pay another builder to complete the work. Is it to be said that the husband has suffered no damage because he does not own the property? Such a result would in my view be absurd and the answer is that the husband has suffered loss because he did not receive the bargain for which he had contracted with the first builder and the measure of damages is the cost of securing the performance of that bargain by completing the roof repairs properly by the second builder.