White v John Warwick & Co Ltd Case Summary (1953) All ER


White v John Warwick & Co Ltd is a classic case of the law of tort in which it was held that a strict liability clause in the agreement can’t be a bar for the action of damages when there is negligence on the part of the liable party.

Facts of White v John Warwick case:

1. Plaintiff (White), a newspaper and tobacco vendor at Canonbury, entered a written contract with Defendant (John Warwick & Co Ltd) wherein Defendant had to supply newspaper delivery tricycle to the Plaintiff in working condition and also to repair the damages with no other charges except punctures.

2. At the end of May 1950, the plaintiff informed the defendant to repair the tricycle, as it was in need to be repaired.

3. Defendant’s representative left a spare tricycle in exchange for the one which was to be repaired. The plaintiff, without examining, used it and was injured because of the faulty and loose saddle.

4. Anthony (plaintiff’s employee) deposed that the saddle slips back, which causes him to lose control. He tried to tighten it but the nuts were too rusty.


1. The defendant breached the warranty as he failed to provide a reasonably fit tricycle. Therefore, he is liable to pay for the damages.

2. The defendant was negligent, i.e. had not taken reasonable care as he provided an unfit cycle with no examination which resulted in the injury to the plaintiff.

3. Defendant contended he is not liable for any personal injuries to any rider of the cycle as per clause 11 of the agreement.

Ratio of White v John Warwick case:


1. Court held the defendant liable. When there is negligence, a clause can’t be a bar for the action of the damages.

2. If the exemption from negligence would have already been mentioned, then the defendant would not have been liable. Here, the clause only exempts the defendant from the strict liability but not from negligence. The facts giving rise to tort and breach of contract can be the same.

3. In the White vs John Warwick case, negligence is founded on the tort, as if the plaintiff’s servant had been riding a tricycle, and if he could show negligence by the defendant, then the defendant is held liable as the exemption clause would not be a defence in this case.

Tort Meaning – The word “tort” is derived from the Latin word tortum, which means twisted or crooked or wrong or unlawful. The law imposes a duty to respect the legal rights of others, and the person making a breach of that duty is said to have done the wrongful act.

Negligence Meaning – Negligence in tort simply means when you had a duty towards someone, you breached that duty and in consequence of that breach, there was some damage caused to the other party.

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