Most Read Contributor in Hong Kong, September 2016
In Yuen Pui Man Ellen v. Majestic Furniture & Interior
Design Limited (DCPI1960/2011), the Plaintiff purchased
certain made-to-measure furniture from a renowned interior design
company. The furniture turned out to emit toxic fumes at a high
level and did not correspond with the sale description. Apart from
seeking a refund of the purchase price of the furniture, the
Plaintiff also brought a personal injury claim on the ground that
the toxins emitted by the furniture affected her health.
In July 2008, the Plaintiff visited the Defendant's store
with a view to buying made-to-measure wooden household furniture.
The salesmen who attended to her referred to newspapers clippings
reporting that most furniture sold in Hong Kong would contain or be
contaminated by toxins harmful to humans. She was assured this
problem could be avoided if she purchased furniture from them. The
salesmen also emphasised that their furniture was made of E-1 grade
timber and toxin-free plywood from Indonesia, which emit toxins
less than 0.1 ppm or smaller than 8 mg per 100 g, which would not
affect human health. The Plaintiff relied on this representation
and purchased the furniture.
After the furniture was delivered to the Plaintiff's
residence in October 2008, she discovered that the representations
made by the Defendant's salesmen were false. Tests conducted
showed that the furniture contained extremely high levels of
formaldehyde and total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) beyond the
acceptable level. The expert recommended removal of the
The Plaintiff's Claim
The Plaintiff claimed that due to exposure to the toxins emitted
from the furniture, she started to have allergic symptoms in the
eyes, throat, nose, lung and skin. The symptoms, such as coughing,
wheezing, chest pains and bronchitis, would recur when she was
exposed to fumes and odours.
While the Defendant disputed the Plaintiff's claim all
along, it did not adduce any expert evidence on liability or
quantum. The Court found that the Defendant practically abandoned
its defence and the Court decided the case based on the
The Court found the Plaintiff to be an honest and credible
witness and accepted her evidence in its entirety. It was held
The Defendant was in breach of contract and the Plaintiff was
entitled to a refund of the purchase price;
The Defendant was liable for the personal injury suffered by the
Plaintiff as a result of the exposure to toxins emitted from the
Apart from the usual heads of damages of PSLA and loss of
earning capacity, the Court also allowed the Plaintiff's claim
for expenses for storage of her personal belongings and the
furniture under the head of special damages.
While retailers are usually eager to highlight the quality of
their products, it is crucial to have corresponding quality control
in place to ensure that the products match their description and
representations made to the consumers. With the ever increasing
awareness in consumers' rights, this case is another example of
why it may be advisable for retailers or manufacturers to review
their quality control systems and manage product defects in the
supply chain. Reducing defects and errors is crucial as negative
publicity surrounding unfavourable claims or litigation can hurt
business and the brand. Companies should also look to product
liability cover as part of their risk management strategy.
Mayer Brown is a global legal services organization
comprising legal practices that are separate entities (the Mayer
Brown Practices). The Mayer Brown Practices are: Mayer Brown LLP, a
limited liability partnership established in the United States;
Mayer Brown International LLP, a limited liability partnership
incorporated in England and Wales; Mayer Brown JSM, a Hong Kong
partnership, and its associated entities in Asia; and Tauil &
Chequer Advogados, a Brazilian law partnership with which Mayer
Brown is associated. "Mayer Brown" and the Mayer Brown
logo are the trademarks of the Mayer Brown Practices in their
This article provides information and comments on legal
issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a
comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not
intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific
legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters
discussed herein. Please also read the JSM legal publications
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
When schools or universities are looking to operate in the United Arab Emirates, one of the basic considerations that must be taken into account is the form of real estate ownership that the institution can hold
In previous issues of this newsletter we have considered how an education institution (be that a school, university or tertiary or vocational college) can expand their brand and footprint internationally.
On 14th January, 2015, the Irish government published the much anticipated bill in relation to the continuation of regulatory protection for borrowers following the sale of their loans from regulated to unregulated entities.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).