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Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care

Introduction

The cases Chapman v. Hearse and Voli v IngleWoodshire Council are both legal cases that were tried in the High Court of Australia in the years 1961 and 1963 respectively. The Judges for the Chapman v. Hearse case was Dixon C.J.; Kitto J.; Taylor J.; Menzies J.; Windeyer J; and the judges for the latter case were Dixon CJ; Windeyer J and Owen J. Thus, two of the judges were the same for both the cases that revolved around issues of negligence, accountability, liability, duty of care and forseeability. The cases are similar in some ways and dissimilar in some ways. The two cases differ in the facts that in the Chapman v Hearse case, there is a death – Dr. Cherry is hit by Hearse. In the Voli v Ingle Wood shire Council case there is no death, just a stage collapse.

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Main body

Chapman v Hearse case arose out of an action of contributory negligence by Hearse against Chapman. The case is brought to court by the widow of. Dr. Cherry against Hearse. The Judge held that it is not necessary that the precise sequence of events leading to the injury is foreseeable. It is enough that the plaintiff belong to a class of persons to whom the damage could have been foreseen. Similarly, in the case of Voli v Ingle Wood Shire Council the case arose out of an action of negligence on the part of the architect with contributory negligence cited on the part of the Public Works Department.

In the first case, it was discussed whether Chapman should be allowed to take part of the blame for Dr. Cherry’s death. In the latter case, the issue that was raised was whether the architect can be blamed despite the failure of the PWD to pick up the faulty design. Thus the similarity in the two cases revolves around discussion of blaming a person remotely linked to the crime.

The difference is that the judgment in the first case was that Chapman cannot be held responsible because he is too remotely linked to the event. In the latter case, the judge held that architect is to be blamed because the chain of causation is not necessarily broken by intermediate events such as the PWD’s examination and failure to pick up fault in design. According to the Judgment, the first wrongdoer – the architect in this case- cannot escape blame by saying that the injury would not have occurred but for the negligence of the latter (the PWD).

Windeyer J. in the Voli v Inglewood Shire Council says that “it is the need for care lest someone be injured that both creates the duty and determines what amounts to a breach of it”. It is the same need of care that creates the duty for Dr. Cherry and absolves him of contributory negligence.

Another issue raised in the second case was although the architect was accountable to his employers, did his duty of care extend to the people who reasonably forseeably used the building after it was handed over to the council? The judge held that the had a duty of care to anyone who could reasonably foreseen to be injured as a result of his negligence even if this duty is not identical to that of the council. Likewise, Hearse in control and management of the car had the duty of care to anyone who could reasonably foreseen to be injured as a result of his negligence.

Conclusion

The finding of negligence on Hearse’s part was based upon the fact that the circumstances then prevailing required a high degree of caution on the part of a driver using the road and that, although he was not driving at a high speed, his speed was excessive in the prevailing conditions and that he had not kept a sufficiently careful look out. Likewise, the finding of negligence on the architect’s part was based upon the fact that he had the duty to design a plan according to Australian Standards. His failure to do so was the main reason behind the collapse. Hence he is guilty of negligence.

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Another issue here is to know if having suffered judgment at the hands of Dr. Cherry’s executor, Hearse became entitled to recover a contribution from Chapman. The answer is in the negative. First of all, it is said, Chapman owed no duty of care to Dr. Cherry. Alternatively, it is asserted that, even if he did, Dr. Cherry’s death was caused solely by the negligent driving of Hearse and not at all by any breach of duty on Chapman’s part. But in the case of Voli v Inglewood Shire Council the judge felt that the architect was under a duty of care. Windeyer J observed that the architect knew the purpose for which the hall was being built, and the use to which it would be put. His duty of care extended to persons who would come here to use it in the ordinary way.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 19). Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/construction-law-negligence-tort-and-duty-of-care/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 19). Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care. https://studycorgi.com/construction-law-negligence-tort-and-duty-of-care/

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"Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care." StudyCorgi, 19 Oct. 2021, studycorgi.com/construction-law-negligence-tort-and-duty-of-care/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care." October 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/construction-law-negligence-tort-and-duty-of-care/.


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StudyCorgi. "Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care." October 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/construction-law-negligence-tort-and-duty-of-care/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care." October 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/construction-law-negligence-tort-and-duty-of-care/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Construction Law. Negligence, Tort and Duty of Care'. 19 October.

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