The Wagon Mound (No.1) [1961] Uncategorized Legal Case Notes August 26, 2018 May 28, 2019. It is, no doubt, proper when considering tortious liability for negligence to analyse its elements and to say that the plaintiff must prove a duty owed to him by the defendant, a breach of that duty by the defendant, and consequent damage. XII. 23 of 1960, Jurisdiction: These cookies do not store any personal information. Wagon Mound (No. He said "The evidence of this damage is slight and no claim for compensation is made in respect of it. Overseas had a ship called the Wagon Mound, which negligently spilled oil over the water. They approved that which they cited and their approval has high authority. Sir Samuel Evans, P., said "The doctrine of legal causation, in reference both to the creation of liability and to the measurement of damages, has been much discussed by judges and commentators in this country and in America. Citation: Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock & Engineering Co Ltd (The "Wagon Mound" (No 1)) [1961] AC 388 This information can be found in the Textbook: Sappideen, Vines, Grant & Watson, Torts: Commentary and Materials (Lawbook Co, 10th ed, 2009), pp. This becomes more clear if it is supposed that similar unforeseeable damage is suffered by A and C but other foreseeable damage, for which B is liable, by A only. The Wagon Mound No. Sign in to disable ALL ads. If you would like access to the new version of the H2O platform and have not already been contacted by a member of our team, please contact us at The privy council adopted a test of reasonable foresight, judged from the point of view of a reasonable person in the position of the D at the time of the breach. We use cookies on our website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. Some cotton debris became embroiled in the oil and sparks from some welding works ignited the oil. In Minister of Pensions v. Chennell [1947] 1 K.B. It would, indeed, appear to their Lordships that, unless the learned Chief Justice was making a distinction between "one who commits a wrongful act" and one who commits an act of negligence, the case is not reconcilable with Polemis. In the action the respondents sought to recover from the appellants compensation fm ,the damage which its property known as the Sheerlegs Wharf in Sydney Harbour and ,the equipment ,thereon had suffered by reason of fire which broke out on the 1st November, 1951. It is not easy to understand why a distinction should be drawn between "immediate physical" and other consequences, nor where the line is to be drawn. This. This caused oil to leak from the ship into the Sydney Harbour. Detailed case brief Torts: Negligence. Here all the elements are blended, "natural" or "ordinary consequences," "foreseeability," "proximate cause." It receives strong confirmation from the fact that at the trial the respondents strenuously maintained that the appellants had discharged petrol into the bay on no other ground than that, as the spillage was set alight, it could not be furnace oil. You can access the new platform at 519-21 [13.175] or here A lot of oil fell on the sea due to the negligent work of the defendant’s workers and floated with water. Nothing that they have said is intended to reflect on that rule. 784. Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v The Miller Steamship Co or Wagon Mound (No. affirmed (stating it to be his own view only and not that of the court) that he entertained "considerable doubt whether a person who is guilty of negligence is responsible for all the consequences which may under any circumstances arise and in respect of mischief which could by no possibility have been foreseen and which no reasonable person would have anticipated." The special case submitted by the arbitrators found that the causing of the spark could not reasonably have been anticipated from the falling of the board, though some damage to the ship might reasonably have been anticipated. The words "tort" and "tortious" have perhaps a somewhat sinister sound but, particularly where the tort is not deliberate but is an act of negligence, it does not seem that there is any more moral obliquity in it than in a perhaps deliberate breach of contract, or that the negligent actor should suffer a severer penalty. Yet Hadley v. Baxendale was not cited in argument nor referred to in the judgments in Polemis. Let the rule in Polemis be tested in this way. This appears to be in flat contradiction to the rule in Polemis and to the dictum of Lord Sumner in Weld-Blundell v. Stephens. In the same connection may be mentioned the conclusion to which the Full Court finally came in the present case. Overseas Tankship were charterers of the Wagon Mound, which was docked across the harbour unloading oil. Morts Dock & Engineering Co (The Wagon Mound) owned the wharf, which … Nevertheless it does establish some damage which maybe insignificant in comparison with the magnitude of the damage by fire, but which nevertheless is damage which beyond question was a direct result of the escape of the oil" This upon this footing that their Lordships will consider the question whether the appellants are liable for the fire damage. Miller owned two ships that were moored nearby. During the early hours of the 30th October, 1951, a large quantity of bunkering oil was through the carelessness of the appellants' servants allowed to spill into the bay and by 10:30 on the morning of that day it had spread over a considerable part of the bay, being thickly concentrated in some places and particularly along the foreshore near the respondents' property. Duncan. Mention should also be made of Cory & Son Ltd. v. France Fenwick & Co. Ltd. (1911) 1 K.B. To demand more of him is too harsh a rule, to demand less is to ignore that civilised order requires the observance of a minimum standard of behaviour. [Delivered by VISCOUNT SIMONDS]. The relevant facts can be, comparatively shortly slated inasmuch as not one of the findings of fact in the exhaustive judgment of the learned trial Judge has been challenged. In Bourhill v. Young [1943] A.C. 91 at p. 101 the double criterion is more directly denied. It is doubtful whether In re Polemis and Furness Withy & Co. can survive these decisions. The Wagon Mound No.2 [1967] 1 AC 617 Privy Council The defendant's vessel, The Wagon Mound, leaked furnace oil at a Wharf in Sydney Harbour due to the failure to close a valve. The crew members of the Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd were working on a ship, when they failed to turn off one of the furnace taps. The Wagon Mound no 1 AC 388 House of Lords The defendant's vessel, The Wagon Mound, leaked furnace oil at a Wharf in Sydney Harbour. In the near 'hall-century that has passed since the learned President spoke those words the task has not become easier, but it is possible to point to certain landmarks and to indicate certain tendencies which, as their Lordships hope, may serve in some measure to simplify the law. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. This was precisely the interpretation of The Wagon Mound adopted by Glanville Williams, a strong supporter of a foreseeability-based approach, who saw the Wagon Mound as decisive. In consequence of the extreme severity of the weather the grating was obstructed by ice and the water flowed over a portion of the causeway and froze. L. Rep. 305 CA Jones v Livox Quarries Ltd The appellants made no attempt to disperse the oil. Course. He also made the all important finding, which must be set out in his own words. Be it observed that to him it was one and the same thing whether the unforeseeability of damage was relevant to liability or compensation. The Wagon Mound (No 2) - Detailed case brief Torts: Negligence. If the claim for breach of contract had been pursued, the charterers could not have been held liable for consequences not reasonably foreseeable. That consideration must begin with an expression of indebtedness to Mr. Justice Manning for his penetrating analysis of the problems that today beset the question of liability for negligence. Again, suppose a claim by A for damage by fire by the careless act of B. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. London (reported in [1914] Prob. Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd. v. Morts Dock & Engineering Co., Ltd. "Wagon Mound No. This means you can view content but cannot create content. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. What then did Polemis decide? It was upon this footing that the Court of Appeal held that the charterers were responsible for all the consequences of their negligent act even though those consequences could not reasonably have been anticipated. The two grounds have been treated as coterminous, and so they largely are. 528, holding that a complete indemnity for breach of contract was too harsh a rule, decided that "the aggrieved party is only entitled to recover such part of the loss actually resulting as was at the time of the contract reasonably foreseeable as liable to result from the breach." Similar observations were made by other members of the court. Required fields are marked *. As Lord Denning said in King v. Phillips [1953] 1 Q.B. An attempt was made before their Lordships' Board to limit in some way the finding of fact but it is clear that it was intended to cover precisely the event that happened. 577, nor to Cockburn C.J. Background facts. 1], [1961] A.C. 388 (P.C. Registered office: Unit 6 Queens Yard, White Post Lane, London, England, E9 5EN. The defendant was held not to be liable. Areas of applicable law: Tort law – Negligence – foreseeability. He enquired of the manager of the Caltex Oil Company, at whose wharf the "Wagon Mound" was then still berthed, whether they could safely continue their operations on ,the wharf or upon the "Corrimal". This consideration may play a double role. Held: Re Polemis can no longer be regarded as good law. There was no evidence that the defendant knew of the grating being obstructed. Year: 1961: Facts: 1. Morts asked the manager of the dock that the Wagon Moundhad been berthed at if the oil could catch fire on the water, and was informed that it could not. This new word may well have been thought as good a word as another for revealing or disguising the fact that he sought loyally to enforce an unworkable rule. In that case the majority of their Lordships, of whom Lord Sumner was one, held, affirming a decision of the Court of Appeal, that the plaintiff's liability for damages in certain libel actions did not result from an admitted breach by the defendant of the duty that he admittedly owed to him. Applying the rule in Polemis and holding therefore that the unforeseeability of the damage by fire afforded no defence, they went on to consider the remaining question. Legal issues. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. Spread led to MD Limited’s wharf, where welding was in progress. We have come back to the plain common sense stated by Lord Russell of Killowen in Bourhill v. Young. But it is far otherwise. Before turning to the cases that succeeded it, it is right to glance at yet another aspect of the decision in Polemis. Her mast was lying on the wharf and a number of the respondents' employees were working both upon it and upon the vessel itself, using for this purpose electric and oxy-acetylene welding equipment. Their Lordships conclude this part of the case with some general observations. Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd v Morts Dock & Engineering Company Ltd [1961] UKPC 1 (18 January 1961) 1" Brief: Case Citation: [1961] A.C. 388. There can be no doubt that the decision of the Court of Appeal in Polemis plainly asserts that, if the defendant is guilty of negligence, he is responsible for all the consequences whether reasonably foreseeable or not. Suppose an action brought by A for damage caused by the carelessness (a neutral word) of B, for example, a fire caused by the careless spillage of oil. The fire spread … The respondents were admittedly at fault; therefore, said the appellants, invoking the rule in Polemis, they were responsible for all damage whether reasonably foreseeable or not. When molten metal dropped by Mort’s workmen later set floating cotton waste on fire, the oil caught fire and the wharf was badly damaged. It has never been subject to the express scrutiny of either the House of Lords or the Privy Council, though there have been comments upon it in those Supreme Tribunals. It is irrelevant to the question whether B is liable for unforeseeable damage that he is liable for foreseeable damage, as irrelevant as would the fact that he had trespassed on Whiteacre be to the question whether he has trespassed on Blackacre. (discussed by Professor Goodhart in his Essays, p. 129), Donoghue v. Stevenson and Bourhill v. Young, or in respect of intervening causes as in Aldham v. United Dairies (London) Ltd. and Woods v. Duncan. This is the old version of the H2O platform and is now read-only. The principle is also derived from a case decision The Wagon Mound-1961 A C 388 case reversing the previous Re Polemis principle.. She was there from about 9 am on the 29th October until 11 am on the 30th October, 1951, for the purpose or discharging gasoline products and taking in bunkering oil. JUDGMENT OF THE LORDS OF THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL, DELIVERED THE 18TH JANUARY 1961. Remoteness; Judgment. A large quantity of oil was spilled into the harbour. A system of law which would hold B liable to A but not to C for the similar damage suffered by each of them could not easily be defended. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Upon this Mr. Justice Manning said: "Notwithstanding that, if regard is had separately to each individual occurrence in the chain of events that led to this fire, each occurrence was improbable and, in one sense, improbability was heaped upon improbability, I cannot escape from the conclusion that if the ordinary man in the street had been asked, as a matter of common sense, without any detailed analysis of the circumstances, to state the cause of the fire at Mort's Dock, he would unhesitatingly have assigned such cause to spillage of oil by the appellant's employees." Sign in to disable ALL ads. It is not strange that Sir Frederick Pollock said that Blackburn and Willes J.J. would have been shocked beyond measure by the decision that the charterers were liable in tort: see Pollock on Torts, 15th edn., p. 29. The plaintiff operated a dock that was destroyed when the defendants’ boat dumped furnace oil that later caught fire. There the statement in Smith's case was followed, Sir Samuel Evans citing Blackburn J.: "What the defendants might reasonably anticipate is only material with reference to the question whether the defendants were negligent or not, and cannot alter their liability if they were guilty of negligence." Thus foreseeability becomes the effective test. After the event even a fool is wise. But it is not the hindsight of a fool; it is the foresight of the reasonable man which alone can determine responsibility. In that case it was said that "when it has been once determined that there is evidence of negligence, the person guilty of it is equally liable for its consequences, whether he could have foreseen them or not"; see per Baron Channell at page 21. Lord Sumner, whose speech their Lordships, like others before them, have not found all respects easy to follow, said : "What a defendant ought to have anticipated as a reasonable man is material when the question is whether or not he was guilty of negligence, that is. The results of this enquiry coupled with his own belief as to the inflammability of furnace oil in the open led him to think that the respondents could safely carry on their operations. Nor, clearly, had it at an earlier date occurred to Lord Wensleydale in Lynch v. Knight 9 H.L.C. 114. Your email address will not be published. But up to that date it had been universally accepted that the law in regard to damages for breach of contract and for tort was, generally speaking, and particularly in regard to the tort of negligence, the same. Enough has been said to show that the authority of Polemis has been severely shaken though lip-service has from time to time been paid to it. [12] The Wagon Mound (No 1) Detailed case brief Torts: Negligence. Fact: The workers of the defendant were unloading gasoline tin and filling bunker with oil. It is true that in that case the Lord Justice was dealing with damages for breach of contract. Donoghue v Stevenson : 5 law cases you should know (1/5) - Duration: 2:25. There is thus introduced the conception that the negligent actor is not responsible for consequences which are not "direct," whatever that may mean. JustCite search results for Wagon Mound Case (No 1) This field is only compatible with UK primary legislation from 2001 - present. I can only express the hope that, if not in this case, then in some other case in the near future the subject will be pronounced upon by the House of Lords or the Privy Council in terms which, even if beyond my capacity fully to understand, will facilitate for those placed as I am, its everyday application to current problems." Where there is no reason to expect it, and no knowledge in the person doing the wrongful act that such a state of things exists as to render the damage probable, if injury does result to a third person it is generally considered that the wrongful act is not the proximate cause of the injury so as to render the wrongdoer liable to an action." Animated Video created using Animaker - For our GPML assignment Lord Dunedin (another of the majority) decided the case on the ground that there was there no evidence which entitled the jury to give the affirmative answer that they did to the question as put to them that the actions of libel and damages recovered were the "natural and probable consequences" of the proved negligence of the defendant. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. Some doubt was expressed in Polemis as to whether the citation of which these learned judges so emphatically approved was correct. The learned Judge held that apart ,from damage by fire the respondents had suffered some damage from the spillage of oil in that it had got upon their slipways and congealed upon them and interfered - with their use of the slips. The Law of Torts LAWS212. For, if it is asked why a man should be responsible for the natural or necessary or probable consequences of his act (or any other similar description of them) the answer is that it is not because they are natural or necessary or probable, but because, since they have this quality, it is judged by the standard of the reasonable man that he ought to have foreseen them. Synopsis of … The Wagon Mound principle. 1"* from LAW 523 at University of Nevada, Las … You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. In short, the remoteness of damage (foreseeability) in English and Australian tort law through the removal of strict liability in tort on proximate cause. After several hours the oil drifted and was around two ships owned by the Miller Steamship Co that were being repaired nearby. Charterers of Wagon Mound carelessly spilt fuel oil onto water when fuelling in harbour. It would not be possible or feasible in this judgment to examine them in anything approaching detail." In that case Lord Justice Vaughan Williams citing the passage from the judgment of Pollock C.B. Before going forward to the cases which followed Polemis,their Lordships think it desirable to look back to older authorities which appear to them to deserve consideration. Just as (as it has been said) there is no such thing as negligence in the air, so there is no such thing as liability in the air. The second case was "H.M.S. The case arose out of a charter partly and went to arbitration under a term of it and the first contention of the charterers was that they were protected from liability by the exception of fire in the charter party. But there is nothing in the case to suggest, nor any reason to suppose, that he regarded the measure of damage as different in tort and breach of contract. It is probable in any case that it had not occurred to them that there was any such dichotomy as was suggested in Polemis. Get Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd. v. Morts Dock & Engineering Co., Ltd. [Wagon Mound No. They have been concerned primarily to displace the proposition that unforeseeability is irrelevant if damage is "direct." Privy Council Appeal No. Your email address will not be published. If, as admittedly it is, B's liability (culpability) depends on the reasonable foreseeability of the consequent damage, how is that to be determined except by the foreseeability of the damage which in fact happened - the damage in suit? On the face of it, The Wagon Mound (No 1) determines that there should no longer be different tests for the breach of duty, and the extent of the damage which is recoverable. The respondents claim, in the alternative, that the appellants are liable in nuisance if not in negligence. In fact, the judgment shows a strong distaste for causal language, and in principle is ought to leave ‘cause in fact’ as the only remaining question of causation in tort law. of want of due care according to the circumstances. This appeal is brought from an order of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales dismissing an appeal by the appellants, Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd" from a judgment of Mr. Justice Kinsella exercising the Admiralty Jurisdiction of that Court in an action in which the appellants were defendants and the respondents Morts Dock & Engineering Co, Ltd. were plaintiffs. OpenLearn from The Open University 47,534 views. In the year 1913 in the case of H.M.S. There Viscount Simon analysed the conditions of establishing liability for negligence and stated them to be (1) that the defendant failed to exercise due care (2) that he owed the injured man the duty to exercise due care, and (3) that his failure to do so was the cause of the injury in the proper sense of the term. at p. 258 is particularly valuable and interesting. For his liability is in respect of that damage and no other. London", which has already been referred to. 59; (1922) 12 Ll. In Sharp v. Powell Law Rep. 7 C.P. Three things may be noted about this case: the first, that for the sweeping proposition laid down no authority was cited; the second, that the point to which the court directed its mind was not unforeseeable damage of a different kind from that which was foreseen, but more extensive damage of the same kind; and the third, that so little was the mind of the court directed to the problem which has now to be solved that no one of the seven judges who took part in the decision thought it necessary to qualify in any way the consequences for which the defendant was to be held responsible. 560, except that “kind of damage” has now to be understood in the light of the interpretation in The Wagon Mound (No. Their Lordships have already observed that to hold B liable for consequences however unforeseeable of a careless act, if, but only if, he is at the same time liable for some other damage however trivial, appears to be neither logical nor just. But there can be no liability until the damage has been done. The Wagon Mound (1) crops up in following areas of law The wharf and the "Corrimal" caught fire and considerable damage was done to the wharf and the equipment upon it. 23 of 1960. Docket Numbers: If it does, it is only in respect of neglect of duty to the plaintiff which is the immediate or precipitating cause of damage of an unforeseeable kind." Overseas Tankship were charterers of a freighter ship named the Wagon Mound which was moored at a dock. in Greenland v. Chaplin which has already been read, said at p. 122 "I do not myself suppose that although, when these propositions were originally laid down, they were not intended as positive judgments but as opinions of the learned judge, there would be any doubt nowadays as to their accuracy." 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