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Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co v English

[1938] AC 57

Case summary last updated at 20/01/2020 18:32 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co v English

P was injured in D’s mine and sued D for negligence. D claimed that responsibility for mine safety was delegated to D’s agent and therefore they were not responsible. HL allowed P’s claim on the grounds that the duty to effect and maintain a safe system of work was not absolved by the appointment of someone to undertake that duty. 
Lord Wright: The duty to take reasonable care for the protection of workers is threefold: “the provision of a competent staff of men, adequate material, and a proper system and effective supervision”.
Lord Macmillan: There are 2 key doctrines: The doctrine of vicarious liability and the doctrine of common employment (that a master is not liable where one servant injures another where they are both engaged in the same job) –NB ABOLISHED by legislation. In this case common employment does not apply since the agent employed to provide a safe system of work is not employed on the same task as ordinary workmen. 

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