A homeowner who blamed a devastating house fire on an alleged electrical fault in a commonplace fridge freezer had his hopes of winning compensation from its manufacturer dashed by a judge – who ruled that there was ‘nothing wrong’ with the two-year-old appliance.
The man had just spent £14,000 on totally refurbishing the kitchen of his home when the fire took hold on New Year's Eve 2010. After enjoying a celebratory lunch with his parents, he had gone out to a party to see the New Year in with his girlfriend before returning to find his home gutted.
He sought substantial damages from Samsung Electronics (UK) Limited under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, pointing to an alleged manufacturing defect in the fridge as the root of the fire. However, the company argued that the fire could have been linked to the man’s smoking habit. Alternatively it was submitted that the fridge might have been damaged whilst being moved during the refurbishment work.
The local fire and rescue service had reported that the most likely cause of the accidental blaze was a fault in the appliance. However, after considering expert forensic evidence, the judge dismissed claims that it was faulty and found that the probable seat of the fire was combustible material in front of the fridge.