The respondents must pay the costs of the appellants of this appeal and in the Courts below. THE WAGON MOUND The Wagon Mound (as the decision will be called for short) involved liability for damage done by fire, like many of the leading English and American cases on remoteness of damage. What then did Polemis decide? You can access the new platform at https://opencasebook.org. 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. (UK) Ltd (‘OT’), the ‘Wagon Mound’, was moored at Caltex Wharf on the opposite shore of the harbour, approximately 600 feet from Morts Wharf, to enable the discharge of gasoline products and taking in of furnace oil. 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. The Privy Council held that a party can be held liable only for loss that was reasonably foreseeable. Of what relevance is it to that claim that he has another claim arising out of the same careless act? 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. After the event even a fool is wise. The wharf and ships moored there sustained substantial fire damage. Are you a Firefighter at Miami Volunteer Fire Department or a member of the Miami community? You can help us to keep this page up to date: Their Lordships do not propose to spend time in examining whether the issue there lay in breach of contract or in tort. An unfortunate chain of events led to the oil becoming mixed with cotton debris, which was subsequently ignited by the sparks coming off some nearby welding works. The respondents claim, in the alternative, that the appellants are liable in nuisance if not in negligence. 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. The Privy Council found in favour of the defendant, agreeing with the expert witness who provided evidence that the defendant, in spite of the furnace oil being innately flammable, could not reasonably expect it to burn on water. 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. What is not suggested is that the wrongdoer is liable for the consequences of his wrongdoing whether reasonably foreseeable or not, or that there is one criterion for culpability, another for compensation. 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. Some cotton debris became embroiled in the oil and sparks from some welding works ignited the oil. One aspect of this case remains to be dealt with. Woods v. Here there is no suggestion of one criterion for determining culpability (or liability) and another for determining compensation. 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. The Lords made reference to hindsight, indicating it is nothing like foresight and should play no role in assessing negligence. They approved that which they cited and their approval has high authority. The crew negligently allowed furnace oil to leak. 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. The Privy Council's advice soundly disapproved the rule established in Re Polemis, as being "out of the current of contemporary thought" and held that to find a party liable for negligence the damage must be reasonably foreseeable. Their Lordships, as they have said, assume that the court purported to propound the law in regard to tort. 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 two cases in 5 Exchequer Reports Rigby v. Hewitt at p. 240 and Greenland v. Chaplin at p. 243, Pollock C.B. 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). 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. 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. For this damage they claimed that the appellants were in law responsible. 2), is a landmark tort case, concerning the test for breach of duty of care in negligence. It was not necessary to argue this question and it was not argued. 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 lawyer," said Sir Frederick Pollock, "cannot afford to adventure himself with philosophers in the logical and metaphysical controversies that beset the idea of cause." Here was the opportunity to deny the rule or to place it secure upon its pedestal. What rules govern the determination of the remoteness of dam-ages Refer to Scott V. Shepherd and The Wagon Mound Case. 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. JUDGMENT OF THE LORDS OF THE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL, DELIVERED THE 18TH JANUARY 1961. ⇒ Since the Wagon Mound case, the courts have frequently reiterated that the defendant may be liable even where he/she could not envisage the precise set of circumstances which caused the harm of a foreseeable type. 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. (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. [Delivered by VISCOUNT SIMONDS]. LORD RADCLIFFE He said "The evidence of this damage is slight and no claim for compensation is made in respect of it. For the successor case on the reasonable man test for breach, see, Note: The Privy Council is an English court that, at the time of this case, was the final appeal court of Australia, Smith v The London and South Western Railway Company, Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v The Miller Steamship Co, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Overseas_Tankship_(UK)_Ltd_v_Morts_Dock_and_Engineering_Co_Ltd&oldid=967245741, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council cases on appeal from Australia, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 12 July 2020, at 02:58. The earliest in point of date was Smith v. London & South Western Railway Co. Law Rep. 6 C.P. of want of due care according to the circumstances. The second case was "H.M.S. But it is clear from the pleadings and other documents, copies of which were supplied from the Record Office, that alternative claims for breach of contract and negligence were advanced and it is clear too that before Mr. Justice Sankey and the Court of Appeal the case proceeded as one in which, independently of contractual obligations, the claim was for damages for negligence. Here all the elements are blended, "natural" or "ordinary consequences," "foreseeability," "proximate cause." The defendant’s ship, ‘The Wagon Mound’, negligently released oil into the sea near a wharf close to Sydney Harbour. Be it observed that to him it was one and the same thing whether the unforeseeability of damage was relevant to liability or compensation. 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. Some hours later much of the oil had drifted to and accumulated on Sheerlegs Wharf and the respondent’s vessels. VISCOUNT SIMONDS In that case it was not dealt with except in a citation from Weld-Blundell v. Stephens. Wagon Mound Case. The negligent act was nothing more than the carelessness of stevedores (for whom the charterers were assumed to be responsible) in allowing a sling or rope by which it was hoisted to come into contact with certain boards, causing one of them to fall into the hold. (as he then was) said: "Foreseeability is as a rule vital in cases of contract; and also in cases of negligence, whether it be foreseeability in respect of the person injured as in Palsgref v. Long Island Rly. Even in the inferior courts judges have, sometimes perhaps unwittingly, declared themselves in a sense adverse to its principle. 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. In their Lordships' opinion it should no longer be regarded as good law. Although the likelihood of harm was low, the seriousness of harm was high and it would have cost nothing to prevent it. A vessel was chartered by appellant. The Lords gave Morts the opportunity to sue in nuisance but there is no record of them testing this action in that tort. 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. 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." 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. FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW SOUTH WALES 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. It is not the act but the consequences on which tortious liability is founded. 1), is a landmark tort law case, which imposed a remoteness rule for causation in negligence. Facts: The issue in this case was whether or not the fire was forseeable. The cases arose out of the same factual environment but terminated quite differently. The validity of a rule or principle can sometimes be tested by observing it in operation. The fire spread rapidly causing destruction of some boats and the wharf. The oil Nothing that they have said is intended to reflect on that rule. For the same fallacy is at the root of the proposition. In other words, if it is foreseeable that the claimant will suffer a particular injury (e.g. The ship suffered damage as a result of the fire. 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. London", which has already been referred to. Overseas Tankship (U.K.) Ltd v Morts Dock & Engineering Company Ltd  UKPC 1 (18 January 1961) The test of directness that was upheld in the Re Polemis case was considered to be incorrect and was rejected by the Privy Council 40 years later in the case of Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd. v. Morts Dock and Engg. Before turning to the cases that succeeded it, it is right to glance at yet another aspect of the decision in Polemis. 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 not the act but the consequences on which tortious liability is founded. It was repeated by Lord Sumner in the third case which was relied on in Polemis, namely, Weld-Blundell v. Stephens  A.C. 956 at p. 983. 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". Upon the ice and broke its leg a survival rests upon an obscure precarious! The courts of England & Wales a claim wagon mound case a careless act Lordships, they... 5 ] the defendant ’ s negligence, furnace oil was released into the oil what damage might have reached. Derived from a wharf owned by the careless act of B are blended, natural! 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