Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd takes dustcoats to Mat Dry Cleaners for cleaning. The attendant at Mat Dry cleaners issues a receipt to the messenger delivering the overalls on the back of which the following are printed: ‘This firm accepts no liability for any damage to or shrinkage of any items left in its care irrespective of the cause thereof’ Three days later Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd sends their messenger to collect the dustcoats. On inspecting the dustcoats after their return to its offices it is discovered that three of them have been bleached. The manager of Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd, brings this to the attention of Mat Dry Cleaners. The manager of Mat Dry Cleaners draws the attention of Mobbs to the condition on the back of the receipt when the dustcoats were delivered for dry cleaning and contends that on the basis of this condition his firm is absolved from liability for the damage to the overalls. Required: a) Discuss the prospects of success of Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd. If this dispute were brought before the court. [15marks] b) Apart from litigation is there any other means of resolving this dispute and if so, what are its advantages over a court action? [10marks]

Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd  V   Mat Dry Cleaners

  1.      Law of Contract : Receipts and Tickets Sale Contract

Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd takes dustcoats to Mat Dry Cleaners for cleaning they were handed over to mat Dry Cleaners in a satisfactory condition.

Mat Dry cleaners issues a receipt to Mobbs messengers who is delivering the overalls and on the back of the receipt which was handed over to the messenger and the back of the receipt there is a printed notice that says:

This firm accepts no liability for any damage to a or shrinkage of any items left in its care irrespective of the cause thereof”

Upon collection and inspection Mobbs discovers that three dustcoats have been bleached.

Firstly there is a contract of acceptance of receipts on the issue of receipts and tickets sale contract that could protect Mat dry cleaners to defend their case in the court of law.  Mobbs Ltd committed themselves by accepting a receipt from Mat dry cleaners attendant.  Mat dry cleaners seek to exempt themselves from liability, not only for damage and shrinkage of items left in their care but avoiding to trade in “utmost good faith”.  When the customer takes a receipt and retains it without objection it is regarded as an acceptance of the offer.

Mobbs Ltd could not have read the statement written behind the receipt given to their messenger.  There was no clear notification of this statement anyway in the shop that instructs the customers to read the back of the receipt and there was no verbal communication that instructs the clients to read the back of the receipts.  Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd by receiving and retaining a receipt for the collection of dust coast has accepted an offer and given Mat dry cleaners a go ahead  and clean the dustcoats at their own expense to liability upon any damage and shrinkage to the items accepted by Mat dry cleaners for cleaning.

The issue of a statement written behind a receipt is relatively a misrepresentation even though it is what they base their arguments on, it is rather made with the intention of inducing a contract to the customer without their knowledge which call also fall under duress because nothing is being communicated to the client and the customer is being caused to enter into contract blindly (blind folded).  The customer has the right to refuse and decline the receipt contract and ask for his/her money and demand their dustcoats back if the right information has been communicated to them before they could make any agreement with the service provider. In any case the statement should be printed in red in with a red pointer to it or a notice on the wall to enlighten the customer to do business at his/her own risk.

There is no consensus ad idem between Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd and Mat dry cleaners as a statement is written and not communicated to by Mat dry cleaners to the customers.  These two parties are not of the same mind as they have sent their messenger and most probably the messenger cannot read and if he can read the statement has no authority to withdraw the items from the cleaners as they have been sent and there are on duty not to make decisions.

Mobbs (Pvt) Ltd can win the case over Mat Dry Cleaners over the motion of negligence, misrepresentation, hiding the truth from the client in order to obtain business.  Mat dry cleaners has been negligent they did not take precautions to prevent the occurrence of reasonable foreseeable consequences that may results to damage to items of the customer.

Mobbs can also challenge the case on Bailment which is “safekeeping” and these cases fall under negligence.  Bailment occurs when one party entrusts a piece/item of its property to another party, under the assumption that this piece/item of property will be returned in at least as good a condition as when it was surrendered.  The piece of property may be handed over either for safekeeping or for the performance of a particular service (e.g. tailoring) or cleaning.  If the item(s) are not returned in good condition or are not returned at all, one may attempt to get compensation through small claims courts based on these queries”:

“In the case of a plaintiff whose new silk shirt was ruined by a dry-cleaner, the plaintiff would want to establish a prima facie case of negligence:

  1. That the dry-cleaner willingly accepted the shirt for dry-cleaning (a.k.a. “bailment occurred”). A dry cleaning receipt could serve as evidence for the dry cleaner’s willing acceptance of the shirt.
  2. That the shirt was in satisfactory condition when it was given over to the dry-cleaner. If the shirt had a stain on it, and was returned with the same stain, then it was technical returned in the same “satisfactory condition” in which it was given to the dry-cleaners.  In this case, a person cannot sue for negligence, as the drycleaner did not do additional harm to the shirt.  A dry-cleaner stub (that indicates the condition of the item when it was dropped off or a witness may help to establish the prior condition of the item.
  3. That the shirt was returned in a damaged condition (or was not returned at all). The best evidence is the actual item that was damaged.

“If a plaintiff can show that his/her goods were damaged in the defendant’s possession, then the burden of proof shifts to the defendant to show that he or she did take proper or adequate care of the customer’s possessions”.

With reference to Curtis V. Chemical cleaning And Dyeing Co [1951]1kb 805 where the plaintiff delivered a white satin wedding dress to the defendants for cleaning. The other case is for “Thornton V. Shoe Lane Parking Ltd. [1971]1 Aller 686 Ca issue of Tickets & receipts which is issued by a machine.

b) Apart from litigation there is other means of resolving this dispute and it has the advantages for both parties and it is a win/win situation: Mobbs (Pvt) can opt to deliberate with Mat dry cleaners on out of court settlements and ask Mat dry cleaners to buy new dustcoats for the replacement of the ones which were bleached on the basis that:

  1. Mat dry cleaners is in business and they could lose more business if they do not trade in “utmost good faith” they will lose customers.
  2. Their reputation could be injured if Mobbs intends to do so and go by telling everyone that they are unable to conduct good business service to their clientele.
  3. Mat dry cleaners image of the organisation will be destroyed thereby lose goodwill and the customer’s faith on the organisation.
  4. They are both liable to each other, one had to read all details before contract is sealed and the other had to be responsible than negligent and bailment.
  5. It is cheaper to settle out of court than to start to engage lawyers which will charge their fees.
  6. It serves time of going to court to seek a verdict while both are business people who are human and can reason together as long as they keep their contractual agreement.

 

 

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