The engineers on the Wagon Mound were careless and a large quantity of oil overflowed onto the surface of the water. 537 had loyally followed Polemis, in Victoria Laundry (Windsor) Ltd. v. Newman Industries Ltd. [1949] 2 Q.B. 2) [1967] 1 AC 617. We use cookies on our website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering your preferences and repeat visits. Let the rule in Polemis be tested in this way. Duncan. This means you can view content but cannot create content. 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. Morts owned and operated a dock in Sydney Harbour. 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. The Wagon Mound principle. The plaintiff operated a dock that was destroyed when the defendants’ boat dumped furnace oil that later caught fire. 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. After several hours the oil drifted and was around two ships owned by the Miller Steamship Co that were being repaired nearby. This. The plaintiff's horse, while being led past the spot, slipped upon the ice and broke its leg. 560 which will henceforward be referred to as "Polemis ". It is with the greatest respect to that very learned judge and to those who have echoed his words, that their Lordships find themselves bound to state their view that this proposition is fundamentally false. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Get Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd. v. Morts Dock & Engineering Co., Ltd. [Wagon Mound No. Thank you for helping build the largest language community on the internet. As a result Morts continued to work, taking caution not to ignite the oil. At the same time the appellants were chatterers by demise of the 5,5, "Wagon Mound ", an oil-burning vessel which was moored at the Caltex Wharf on the northern shore of the harbour at a distance of about 600 feet from the Sheerlegs Wharf. This is no more than the old Polemis principle [1921] 3 K.B. Overseas Tankship were charterers of the Wagon Mound, which was docked across the harbour unloading oil. And Kennedy L.J. In doing so Mr. Justice Manning after a full examination of that case said "To say that the problems, doubts and difficulties which I have expressed above render it difficult for me to apply the decision in In re Polemis with any degree of confidence to a particular set of facts would be a grave understatement. The acceptance of the rule in Polemis as applicable to all cases of tort directly would conflict with the view theretofore generally held. In Bourhill v. Young [1943] A.C. 91 at p. 101 the double criterion is more directly denied. Thus it is that over and over again it has happened that in different judgments in the same case, and sometimes in a single judgment, liability for a consequence has been imposed on the ground that it was reasonably foreseeable or, alternatively, on the ground that it was natural or necessary or probable. But the House of Lords took neither course: on the contrary it distinguished Polemis on the ground that in that case the injuries suffered were the "immediate physical consequences" of the negligent act. It is difficult to reconcile the decisions and the views of prominent com¬mentators and jurists differ in important respects. The Wagon Mound (No.1) [1961] Uncategorized Legal Case Notes August 26, 2018 May 28, 2019. If the claim for breach of contract had been pursued, the charterers could not have been held liable for consequences not reasonably foreseeable. The judgment of Bovill C.J. Perhaps he would, and probably he would have added: "I never should have thought it possible." Donoghue v Stevenson : 5 law cases you should know (1/5) - Duration: 2:25. Privy Council Appeal No. Here was the opportunity to deny the rule or to place it secure upon its pedestal. Eventually the oil did ignite when a piece of molten metal fell into the water … 2- Foreseeability Revised By Leon Green* The judgments delivered by the Privy Council in the two Wagon Mound cases have given new direction to the English common law of negligence and nuisance and, if approved by the House of Lords, will be of considerable importance to American courts. We have come back to the plain common sense stated by Lord Russell of Killowen in Bourhill v. Young. The defendant was held not to be liable. at p. 258 is particularly valuable and interesting. The impression that may well be left on the reader of the scores of cases in which liability for negligence has been discussed is that the courts were feeling their way to a coherent body of doctrine and were at times in grave danger of being led astray by scholastic theories of causation and their ugly and barely intelligible jargon. 1"* from LAW 523 at University of Nevada, Las … 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 this case, the Privy Council distinguished between foreseeability and unforeseeable types of damage: ‘the essential factor in determining liability is whether the damage is of such a kind as the reasonable man should have foreseen’. However, the oil was ignited when molten metal dropped from the wharf and came into contact with cotton waste floating on the water’s surface. - Duration: 2:30. It is a principle of civil liability, subject only to qualifications which have no present relevance, that a man must be considered to be responsible for the probable consequences of his act. At an early stage in this judgment their Lordships intimated that they would deal with the proposition which can best be stated by reference to the well-known dictum of Lord Sumner: This however goes to culpability not to compensation." But this observation followed a passage in which His Lordship, directing his mind to the problem of causation, had asked what were "natural, probable and necessary consequences," and had expressed the view that "direct cause" was the best expression. On the other hand, having regard to the course which the case has taken, they do not think that the respondents should be finally shut out from the opportunity of advancing this plea, if they think fit. Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd. v. Morts Dock & Engineering Co., Ltd. "Wagon Mound No. Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd v Morts Dock & Engineering Company Ltd [1961] UKPC 1 (18 January 1961) It may, of course, become relevant to know what duty B owed to A, but the only liability that is in question is the liability for damage by fire. Remoteness; Judgment. In that case it was not dealt with except in a citation from Weld-Blundell v. Stephens. The question of foreseeability became irrelevant and the passage cited from his speech was unnecessary to his decision. When the respondents' works manager became aware of the condition of things on the vicinity of the wharf he instructed their workmen that no welding or burning was to be carried on until further orders. Each of them rests on its own bottom, and will fail if it can be established that the damage could not reasonably be foreseen. Next, one of many cases may be cited which show how shadowy is the line between so-called culpability and compensation. For this damage they claimed that the appellants were in law responsible. 1) [1961] The Wagon Mound (No. Mention should also be made of Cory & Son Ltd. v. France Fenwick & Co. Ltd. (1911) 1 K.B. 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. Thank you. Upon this issue their Lordships are of opinion that it would not be proper for them to come to any conclusion upon the material before them and without the benefit of the considered view of the Supreme Court. Synopsis of … In the same connection may be mentioned the conclusion to which the Full Court finally came in the present case. The plaintiffs prevailed at trial, and the defendants appealed: Issues: 1], [1961] A.C. 388 (P.C. 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. Facts. 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. 1" Brief: Case Citation: [1961] A.C. 388. Sign in to disable ALL ads. This consideration may play a double role. 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." Here all the elements are blended, "natural" or "ordinary consequences," "foreseeability," "proximate cause." Cf. Same facts of Wagon Mound No 1, except the Plaintiff is now the owner of the ship parked at the wharf affected.The ship suffered damage as a result of the fire. Privy Council disapproved of Re Polemis. 2:30. 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. 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". Before turning to the cases that succeeded it, it is right to glance at yet another aspect of the decision in Polemis. The two grounds have been treated as coterminous, and so they largely are. 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. 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. University. Be it observed that to him it was one and the same thing whether the unforeseeability of damage was relevant to liability or compensation. Required fields are marked *. 1) [1961] A.C. 388. In the case of the "Liesbosch" [1933] A.C. 448 the appellants whose vessel had been fouled by the respondents, claimed damages under various heads. 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. Docket Numbers: Some doubt was expressed in Polemis as to whether the citation of which these learned judges so emphatically approved was correct. They have been concerned primarily to displace the proposition that unforeseeability is irrelevant if damage is "direct." 2)|... World Heritage Encyclopedia, the aggregation of the largest online encyclopedias available, and the most definitive collection ever assembled. 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. 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." This caused oil to leak from the ship into the Sydney Harbour. 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. 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? notes 17 and 33, ante. 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. FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW SOUTH WALES 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. Overseas Tankship were charterers of a freighter ship named the Wagon Mound which was moored at a dock. This is the more surprising when it is remembered that in that case, as in many another case, the claim was laid alternatively in breach of contract and in negligence. 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. 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. Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock and Engineering Co Ltd or "Wagon Mound (No 1)" [1961] UKPC 1 is a landmark tort law case, which imposed a remoteness rule for causation in negligence.The Privy Council held that a party can only be held liable for damage that was reasonably foreseeable. The Wagon Mound (No. It is probable in any case that it had not occurred to them that there was any such dichotomy as was suggested in Polemis. Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock & Engineering Co (The Wagon Mound) Also known as: Morts Dock & Engineering Co v Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd Privy Council (Australia) 18 January 1961 Case Analysis ... (No.1) [1923] 1 K.B. 2) [1967] Thoburn v Sunderland City Council [2002] Thomas v Clydesdale Bank [2010] Thomas v National Union of Miners [1986] Thomas v Sawkins [1935] Thomas v Sorrell (1673) Thomas v Thomas [1842] Thompson v Foy [2010] Thompson v Gibson [1841] Thompson v Park [1944] Thorner v Major [2009] Their Lordships refer to this aspect of the matter not because they wish to assert that in all respects to-day the measure of damages is in all cases the same in tort and in breach of contract, but because it emphasises how far Polemis was out of the current of contemporary thought. For the same fallacy is at the root of the proposition. In Minister of Pensions v. Chennell [1947] 1 K.B. Viscount Simonds: it is too harsh a rule to hold a man responsible that for a consequence that he did not and ould not reasonably have foreseen. It would surely not prejudice his claim if that other claim failed: it cannot assist it if it succeeds. Victoria University of Wellington. It has to be asked, then, why this conclusion should have been reached. If the line of relevant authority had stopped with Polemis, their Lordships might, whatever their own views as to its unreason, have felt some hesitation about overruling it. Instances might be multiplied of deviation from the rule in Polemis, but their Lordships think it sufficient to refer to certain later cases in the House of Lords and then to attempt to state what they conceive to be the true principle. A large quantity of oil was spilled into the harbour. 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. 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. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. This concept applied to the slowly developing law of negligence has led to a great variety of expressions which can, as it appears to their Lordships, be harmonised with little difficulty with the single exception of the so-called rule in Polemis. Charterers of Wagon Mound carelessly spilt fuel oil onto water when fuelling in harbour. Your email address will not be published. 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." 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. 253 the defendant's servant in breach of the Police Act washed a van in a public street and allowed the waste water to run down the gutter towards a grating leading to the sewer about 25 yards off. Yet this is just what he has most unfortunately done and must continue to do if the rule in Polemis is to prevail A conspicuous example occurs when the actor seeks to escape liability on the ground that the "chain of causation" is broken by a "nova causa" or "novus actus interveniens.". XII. That might be relevant for a tribunal for which the decision was a binding authority: for their Lordships it is not. Sign in to disable ALL ads. 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. He held that the first and third conditions were satisfied, but inasmuch as the damage was due to an extraordinary and unforeseeable combination of circumstances the second condition was not satisfied. It is not probable that many cases will for that reason have a different result, though it is hoped that the law will be thereby simplified, and that in some cases, at least, palpable injustice will be avoided. Registered office: Unit 6 Queens Yard, White Post Lane, London, England, E9 5EN. They approved that which they cited and their approval has high authority. The Wagon Mound (1) crops up in following areas of law That is irrelevant. 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." Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The sparks from the welders caused the leaked oil to ignite destroying all three ships. Mort’s (P) wharf was damaged by fire due to negligence. 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. There is thus introduced the conception that the negligent actor is not responsible for consequences which are not "direct," whatever that may mean. Who knows or can be assumed to know all the processes of nature? 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. (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. But with great respect to the Full Court this is surely irrelevant, or, if it is relevant, only serves to show that the Polemis rule works in a very strange way. 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. 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. For it was avowedly in deference to that decision and to decisions of the Court of Appeal that followed it that the Full Court was constrained to decide the present case in favour of the respondents. The second case was "H.M.S. It was repeated by Lord Sumner in the third case which was relied on in Polemis, namely, Weld-Blundell v. Stephens [1920] A.C. 956 at p. 983. Academic year Spread led to MD Limited’s wharf, where welding was in progress. This finding was reached after a wealth of evidence which included that of a distinguished scientist Professor Hunter. pronouncekiwi - … It would perhaps not be improper to say that the law of negligence as an independent tort was then of recent growth and that its implications had not been fully examined. The fact of the case: “Wagon Mound” actually is the popular name of the case of Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock and Engineering Co Ltd (1961). however, goes to culpability, not to compensation." This decision is not based on the analysis of causation. Wagon Mound was moored 600 feet from the Plaintiff’s wharf when, due the Defendant’s negligence, she discharged furnace oil into the bay causing minor injury to the Plaintiff’s property. Was it a "direct" consequence? Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v The Miller Steamship Co or Wagon Mound (No. See Also – Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Miller Steamship Co Pty (The Wagon Mound) (No 2) PC ([1967] 2 AC 617, Bailii, [1966] UKPC 1, [1966] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 657, [1966] 2 All ER 709, [1966] 3 WLR 498) (New South Wales) When considering the need to take steps to avoid injury, the court looked to the nature of defendant’s activity. Fact: The workers of the defendant were unloading gasoline tin and filling bunker with oil. Privy Council Appeal No. 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. 66 at p. 85) to say that foreseeability is only disregarded when the negligence is the immediate or precipitating cause of the damage. The Supreme Court of New South Wales. [12] The Wagon Mound (No 1) Detailed case brief Torts: Negligence. 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. Aust. For it does not seem consonant with current ideas of justice or morality that for an act of negligence, however slight or venial, which results in some trivial foreseeable damage the actor should be liable for all consequences however unforeseeable and however grave, so long as they can be said to be "direct." Your browsing experience sense stated by Lord Russell of Killowen in Bourhill v. Young court. Possible harm in determining the extent of a party’s duty of care ‘ goes to culpability not. Argue this question and it was not argued that in the year 1913 the... Henceforward be referred to as `` Polemis `` that they have said, assume that the appellants made No to! Succeeded it, it is not the act but the consequences on which tortious liability is in respect of.. Damages for breach of contract had been pursued, the Wagon Mound case ( No 2 ) |... Heritage... How shadowy is the old version of the website to give you the most relevant experience by remembering preferences! 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