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Issues of the Case

Discuss about the General Jones VS Burnie Port Authority 1994.

The main legal issues of this case were the non-delegable duties. The issues of the case were that the General Jones who was the plaintiff had his stuff kept in the building of Burnie who was the defendant in this case. Burnie had given contract to individual self-governing service provider to undertake particular task. Accordingly, in the negligence of the contractor, a conflagration of fire was triggered and burned down the building. Consequently, the property of the Plaintiff got damaged or destroyed (Barker, Fairweather & Grantham, 2017).   

The case relates to the fire negligence. The law related to the case are various. One is that related to a fire that escapes from the premises. This is related to the rule of the Ignis suus. It also refers to the Rylands v Fletcher rule that is helpful in the determination of whether an independent rule in the Australia. The case also relates to the Fires Preventions Act 1774 that helped in the determination of whether it is part of the Australian law. It further relates to the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Act 1932 (Tas.), s. II (15) to help in the determination of Negligence-duty of the occupier of the land to neighbors. This will also contribute to determining the existence of dangerous activity undertaken by the independent contractor liability of the occupier for the negligence of the contractor (Foley & Christensen, 2016).  

The respondent who was “General”, agonized damages after a massive amount of vegetables that was frozen it possessed got tumble-down by the fire that smashed a structure owned by “the Authority”. The vegetables remained stowed in the 3-cold quarters within building. The General was an occupant of the cold room alongside the office regions following the arrangement with Authority. The remaining parts of the apartment encompassing the region amid ceiling as well as the roof stood under the Authority’s occupation. At point of the fire, the task was taking place to expand the apartment as well as the installation of additional icy storage amenities in enlargement. The original apartment that stored vegetables tagged “Stage I” alongside the uncompleted enlargement was called “Stage 2”.

The Authority has involved contractor (a head) in regards to task engaged in the erections as well as equipping stage 2. Via the task ers, it did a portion of that undertaking itself, encompassing site clearance, concrete foundation pouring, alongside the steeltask  design. Additional task  engaged in Stage 2, comprising the steel frame erection alongside electrical and refrigeration equipment installation, being entrusted to the autonomous contractors. Wildridge together with Sinclair Pty. Limited (W. and S.) were among independent contractors. 

Relevant Law to the Case

The task for which W. and S. were contracted entailed additional installation of refrigeration in stage 2. It encompassed substantial welding as well as the utilization of an enormous amount of EPS (expanded polystyrene) that remained the insulation substance. Whereas EPS entailed retardant substance for blastoff inhibition, it may ignite when under continued interaction with the blaze and scorching material. Upon ignition, the dissolution of material follows into a gooey fire that scorches with unusual fierceness, a speed that escalates in the symmetrical headway (Sappideen et al., 2006).


The utilized EPS by W and S was promoted based on “Isolite” tag commercially. It kept in about 30 cartons cardboard that according to the Authority’s familiarity, loaded together in a given region and “annulled” under the Stage 2 roof in near neighborhood where W and S might, further be undertaking extensive activities of welding according to Authority’s knowledge. Apparently, it remained necessary that special be care applied to make sure that the flashes or melted fluid arising from such activities of welding never kindle cardboard of a single slanted ampule. When this occurs, the probability stood that Isolite in the said vessel could ignite with the outcome that all Isolite would be an irrepressible fire. 

It remains shared basis that, at the appropriate time, Authority remain individually in Stage 2 dwelling, entailing the void of the roof. Authority adopted no moves to evade conflagration danger that indiscreet welding goings-on in the boxes of the Isolite vicinity. On the detection of the erudite trial justice, W. and S. workers undertook the welding happenings in a negligence manner which spurs or liquefied metal dropped on 1 or additional cartons entailing Isolite (Oliphant, 2005). The ignition of cardboard occurred, and Isolite individually started to burn fiercely. The fire blowout right from the void of roof to entire of Stage two alongside a significant proportion of Stage one, encompassing such shares of original structure entailing the icy quarters that the General stayed. The conflagration of such fire within few minutes of ignition had the whole complex flames-engulfed.


The General sued both W and S in Tasmania’s Supreme Court. At initial example, proceeding became thorny by the third party alongside cross-clams amongst the defendants alongside extra party, “Olympic” which had already been the initial Isolite supplier. Neasey J, the erudite trial justice discovered that General was entitled to the ruling against Authority as well as W and S for injury that it had already sustained by the rationale of loess of the ice-covered vegetables. The Justice believed that liability of W and S arose from the ordinary principle of negligence law’s application (“ordinary negligence”) alongside from extraordinary rule link to the obligation of the occupier application for the damage  that fire spillage from her apartment triggered (“rule of Ignis suus”). The Justice further believed that liability of the Authority emerged from the rule of Ignis suus application. As amid W and S alongside Authority, Justice discovered that Authority was, by W and S reason of negligence, eligible to indemnification by W and S with respects to particular damage that the General was paid. The W. and S. and Authority’s 3rd party allegations against the Olympic remained discharged.

Analysis and Legal Arguments Raised

The Full Court received an appeal from Authority based on order of the trial justice that the ruling be arrived at in the favor of the General against the Authority. The Full Court (Zeeman JJ, Cox and Crawford) validated the liability of the Authority to General as well as subsequently made orders that appeal immediately be discharged. Nevertheless, Full Court memberships concluded that foundation of the Authority liability to General never laid in any singular rule regarding solely to the fire escape but in an additional rule of general common law as anchored on the Rylands verses Fletcher linking to liability of occupier for the injury triggered by dangerous substance escape ushered to his buildings. The current appeal is by the Authority from the Full Court rendered the judgment.

 General already made an argument that it is obligated to uphold the decision in its favor in the three unique grounds individually including, (i) the Ignis suus principle; (iii) ordinary negligence and Rylands v. Fletcher liability. The 4th ground (ordinary nuisance) fronted by the printed argument framework by the General but dropped during the oral argument. On his part as he was repudiating any obligation to General, the Authority has never tested the verdicts in the lower court to effect that General continued significant damaged triggered by fire feast from the buildings that the Authority was the occupant of  (Stage two and Stage 1’s remainder) to the buildings the General occupied (icy rooms) alongside that fire remained triggered by the Authority’s autonomous contractor’s negligence in undertaking the indiscreet welding activities on buildings that the Authority was an occupant in near vicinity of stacked cardboard cartons of Isolite. This currently undoubted verdicts of fact that principle of law pertinent has to be acknowledged (Rose, 2016).  

The Court held that the Rylands verses Fletcher that provided that the Burnie remains strictly accountable for the hazardous material escape deprived of the requirement to demonstrate responsibility, if anything on his land that is hazardous as well as artificial is absorbable into negligence ordinary rule. An exceptional relationship avails a singular, individual or non-delegable duty (NDD).  Such a proximity association offers care duty of a unique alongside ‘increasingly strict’ type, called a ‘duty for making sure that sensible care remains upheld’. Such relationships exist where the Burnie has an element of controlling the plaintiff or in case the plaintiff is vulnerable (Jahn Kassim, Ismail & Azhar, 2014). It remains convenient to view the common element as the core control element. The proximity relationship viewed from the standpoint of the individual who is owed the duty, the care duty that cannot be delegated emerges whereby it remains marked by the exceptional reliance or the plaintiff’s vulnerability.

The Rylands v Fletcher mentioned overhead is adopted due to being essentially containing the core aspect of the control that produces, in additional case categories, a unique “personal”/”NDD of care within ordinary negligence law. This relationship is noted where an individual stays in control of the premises as well as who have ceased the opportunity of such a regulator to usher therein a dangerous substance. Therefore, the underlying question is “if Authority ceased benefit of its living as well as regulator of the buildings to permit its autonomous contractor to usher and preserve the hazardous material or to involve in a hazardous undertakings on buildings. 

A beginning argument to get the answer to the above question has to start by considering what relevantly makes up a hazardous material/action. In current case, task undertaken by contactors remained dangerous. In case a single container could be ignited, it would remain unfeasible to control the conflagration of fire and hence would surely cause destruction to the building, collateral negligence. The General was owed a care duty that was not delegable by Authority as a dweller of such portions of grounds into where it needed as well as permitted Isolite to be ushered and welding task to be undertaken. The Authority’s duty of care extended to making sure that the autonomous contractor embraced sensible care to bar Isolite ignited due to the activities of the welding (Reid, 1999). 

The High Court of Australia treated the Rylands verses Fletcher rule as engrossed by principle of ordinary negligence. The greater proportion of the judges were influenced by the hurdles of interpretation as well as application to which such a rule had emerged from, the progressive  rule weakening by the judicial decision, by acknowledging that the negligence law had already been extremely greatly established and enlarged since decision of the Rylands verses Fletcher besides by notion that many claimant entitled to triumph under the rule would proceed in a negligence claim anyway; in case a care duty emerges underneath negligence ordinary law, care benchmark demanded is that which remains sensible in condition (Foster, 2015).

It already been stressed in various suitcases that extent of care within that benchmark essentially with involved hazard alongside that such jeopardy entails both an accident risk degree occurring as well as the potential damage seriousness in case an accident needs to take place even in the case in which the dangerous substance or the activity of type that could lure the Rylands v Fletcher rule is engaged, the benchmark of care stays ‘that which remains sensible in the conditions’; Adelaide Chemical and Fertilizer Co Ltd verses Carlyle. In a case of such activity or substance, nevertheless, a rationally sensible individual would exercise an advanced care extent. In fact, based on the degree of this danger, the benchmark of ‘judicious care’ might engage ‘a diligence gradation so strict as to quantity virtually to safety assurance (Costello, 2014).

References

Barker, K., Fairweather, K., & Grantham, R. (Eds.). (2017). Private Law in the 21st Century. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Burnie Port Authority v General Jones Pty Ltd (1994) 179 CLR 520.

Costello, R. Á. (2014). Reviving Rylands: How the Doctrine Could Be Used to Claim Compensation for Environmental Damages Caused by Fracking. Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law, 23(1), 134-143.

Foley, M., & Christensen, M. (2016). Negligence and the Duty of Care: A Case Study Discussion. Singapore Nursing Journal, 43(1).

Foster, N. J. (2015). Vicarious Liability and Non-Delegable Duty in common law actions based on institutional child abuse.

Jahn Kassim, P. N., Ismail, S. F., & Azhar, M. T. (2014). Revisiting the scope of non-delegable duties of healthcare providers: issues and challenges.

Oliphant, K. (2005). Rylands v Fletcher and the Emergence of Enterprise Liability in the Common Law. In European Tort Law 2004 (pp. 81-120). Springer Vienna.

Reid, E. (1999). Liability for dangerous activities: A comparative analysis. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 48(04), 731-756.

Rose, L. (2016). Untangling the Rule in Rylands v. Fletcher from Nuisance. NEL Rev., 4, 127.

Sappideen, C., Vines, P., Grant, H., & Watson, P. (2006). Torts: commentary and materials.

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My Assignment Help. General Jones VS Burnie Port Authority 1994: Legal Analysis And Arguments [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2018 [cited 19 July 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/general-jones-vs-burnie-port-authority-1994.

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