Breach of Contract

Parker owns and runs ethical shoe shops, Ethletic Vegan Footwear (EVF), in Melbourne and Sydney. He sells ethically custom-made, cruelty-free, and vegan shoes.

 

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He prides himself on producing footwear in a much more sustainable, less toxic, and more compassionate way than using animal hides. Parker’s clients are vegans looking for high-quality alternatives to animal leather.

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Parker has sourced the material for his vegan line of footwear from Vegan Shoes Supplies (VSS) for the last 10 years. Sadly, the owner of VSS retired recently and closed the business down. Parker had to find another supplier. Parker identified Cruelty-Free Cobbler Supplies (CFCs) as a potential new supplier of vegan leather.

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He rings the business to discuss the nature of the materials they sell and speaks to Margaret: Parker: ‘Many of my vegan clients are environmentally conscious. They are looking to buy shoes that are manufactured from an eco-friendly, natural alternative to animal hide. Is the vegan leather you supply all-natural?’ 

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Parker informs Margaret of his intention to order 20 square meters of black vegan leather. Later that afternoon, Margaret emails Parker an online order form with the type and amount of leather already entered. Parker adds his details to complete the online order form and emails it back to CFCs. The order form did not include specific instructions/details about the vegan leather. 

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Parker uses vegan leather to craft a pair of bespoke black boat shoes for Sonia. Sonia calls Parker a couple of days later, threatening to sue him. Within minutes of putting on the shoes, the skin on her feet broke out in painful red patches and blisters.

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Sonia is allergic to synthetic coloring. It turns out that the synthetic tint CFCS use to color the vegan leather they supply, and that has caused the reaction.  Although Sonia made it clear that she wanted vegan leather, she did not specify that the production process should not involve any synthetic materials.

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She now wants to sue Parker for breach of contract.  After the complaint about Sonia’s shoes, Parker makes a sign to display in his shop. He puts the sign up on the wall next to the counter where customers are served and it can be easily seen by his customers.  George comes to Parker’s shop to place an order for a pair of men’s sneakers.

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They discuss all the details: George orders a pair of white men’s sneakers in a size 10, with white rubber soles. While finalizing the order George sees the sign, which says: ‘Ethletic Vegan Footwear (EVF) accepts no responsibility for the breach of any warranty’.

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  George returns a week later to pay for and collect the sneakers. After leaving with his new pair of sneakers, George discovers that the sneakers have brown colored rubber soles when he gets home.

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George had the pair made to wear when he participates in lawn bowling league competitions, as participants must wear all-white shoes on the lawns. George wants to complain to Parker but isn’t sure whether the exclusion clause on the sign prevents him from doing so.

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 ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS 1. Was it a term of the contract between Parker and Cruelty-Free Cobbler Supplies (CFCs) that the vegan leather would be all-natural? (5 marks) 

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2. Was there an implied term in Sonia’s contract with Parker, that the shoes will be made with all-natural vegan leather with no synthetic material/ingredients involved? (5 marks)  3. Was the color of the soles on the pair of George’s sneakers a condition or a warranty for the contract? (4 marks)  4. Is Parker still responsible for the soles on the pair of George’s sneakers being the wrong color? (6 marks)

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