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Hollier v Rambler Motors (AMC) Ltd [1972] 2 QB 71

Car damaged by fire caused by garage’s negligence; effect of exclusion clause

Facts

Hollier had his car repaired by the defendant garage three or four times over a period of five years. On at least two of these occasions he had signed a form which stated the garage were exempted from liability for damage caused by fire on their premises. Hollier had not read the form. On this occasion there was an oral agreement for the repairs to be conducted, and Hollier had not signed a form. His car was damaged by fire and Hollier claimed in negligence.

Issues

Hollier claimed the garage had been negligent and in breach of the implied term that they would take reasonable care of his car. He also contended the garage could not rely on the exclusion clause because it could not be imported from previous written contracts into the oral contract made between himself and the garage. The garage sought to rely on the exemption clause on the basis that the term had been imported into the oral contract by virtue of the parties’ previous course of dealing. They argued three or four occasions within five years was sufficient to amount to a course of dealing such that the terms of the previous contract would be imported into the oral one, and, therefore they were exempted from liability.

Held

Hollier was successful in his claim. Three or four occasions in five years was insufficient to amount to a course of dealing and the exclusion clause had not, therefore, been imported into the oral contract. Even if the clause had been so imported, the language used was not so plain as to clearly exclude the garage from liability for its own negligence.


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