Spittles v Michael's Appliance Services Pty Ltd 
Repairers who do not supply goods are not manufacturers under
Part VA of the Trade Practices Act.
Section 75AD does not apply to persons who work on goods under
contract without ever acquiring title to, or possession of the
goods and without there being a supply.
The delightfully-named Mr Spittles bought a shiny new Maytag
fridge. From one of the panels extended a "razor-like
burr"; he duly cut himself on it and sued all and sundry under
section 75AD of the Trade Practices Act.
The refrigerator, which was made in the US, had originally been
black. There's not much market for black fridges in Australia,
so the importer Maytag Australia put them into a warehouse owned by
someone else and bought a stackload of stainless steel panels.
Michael's Appliances was hired to come to the premises and fix
the panels to the fridges, and then walk away. Maytag then sorted
out the selling of the shiny fridges to retailers. Michael's
Appliances never became a bailee of the refrigerator because it did
not have possession, nor did it ever have a lien on the
refrigerator for its charges.
Michael's Appliances was held at first instance to be a
manufacturer because of its role in assembling the fridges - but
section 75AD says a manufacturer is liable if (a) it "supplies
goods manufactured by it; and (b) they have a defect; and (c)
because of the defect, an individual suffers injuries." Was it
a supplier of the goods and thus liable under section 75AD?
The NSW Court of Appeal held that it was not a
while the contract with Maytag Australia was a bilateral
business transaction in trade and commerce, it was not by way of
sale, exchange, lease, hire or hire purchase or any analogous
transaction within the definition of supply in section 4(1);
Maytag Australia did not acquire the goods from Michael's
the definition of supply is inclusive, with the element of a
bilateral and consensual process, and includes delivery by a bailee
to his bailor, delivery by a seller to the buyer after the property
had passed; and
at best, Michael's Appliances supplied services, not goods
- and that is not covered by Part VA.
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