Plaintiff company HPS Trading Limited filed a claim against defendants before the Small Claims Tribunal requesting payment of €2,073.14c being the outstanding amount due by defendants for work and material of an under floor heating system in defendants’ home. Defendants rebutted that plaintiff company had acted in breach of its obligations under the Consumer Affairs Act and the work done was not in accordance with the required standards of performance.
A representative of plaintiff company testified that defendants had informed him that the living room of the apartment was not being heated properly. Following tests performed by plaintiff company it resulted that there was a fault in the electrical system. However plaintiff company was not prepared to assume responsibility since subsequent to the work it had performed defendants had separately engaged the services of a tile layer and of a electrician both of whom performed work in the same apartment. Plaintiff company argued that therefore one could not exclude that the fault may have been the result of bad workmanship by either the tile layer or electrician.
The Small Claims Tribunal (being the tribunal of first instance) in finding for plaintiff company noted that plaintiff company had offered at its own expense to remove the tiles so as to investigate the origin of the shortcomings and had offered that if subsequently it resulted that it was at fault, it would then pay for the necessary repairs and damages suffered. Defendants however did not accept this proposal because similar tiles were not available on the market and that such work would create substantial inconvenience to them given the work involving the removal of the tiles and having them put back.
The Tribunal decided to uphold plaintiff company’s claims and ordered defendants to pay the outstanding balance of €2,073.14 with costs and interests. The Tribunal said that plaintiff company had offered to undertake the necessary investigations to verify the source of the fault offering to pay for the damages if it resulted that it was at fault. In the circumstances the Tribunal held that defendants had not acted reasonably when they refused to accept plaintiff company’s proposal.
Defendants appealed the decision of the Tribunal before the Court of Appeal (inferior jurisdiction) contending that contrary to what the tribunal of first instance held, the defect in the under floor heating system did not originate from the work of a third party, but was attributable solely to plaintiff company. Defendants contended that the defect was inherent in the product supplied by plaintiff company and that this consequently resulted in a breach of article 73 of the Consumer Affairs Act as there was a lack of conformity with the contract made between plaintiff company and defendants.