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Primary Employers Notes

GDL Law Notes > GDL Tort Law Notes

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A more recent version of these Primary Employers notes – written by Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students – is available here.

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Revision: Tort

The Duty of Care


Personal and non-delegable: performance can be delegated but not liability for its breach o

McDermid v Nash Dredging: Employed by parent company but working for subsidiary - parent company tried to delegate liability but this was not allowed


Mullaney v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police: Junior probation officer beaten up due to lack of back up - Chief Constable tried to delegate responsibility but was not allowed: Strict rule


Classic statement of duties in Wilsons and Clyde Coal v English:

1. Duty to provide a safe place of work, including materials and plant

2. Duty to operate a safe system of work, including supervision and instruction; and,

3. Duty to provide an employee with competent fellow employees


Duties are not distinct: simply different components of the broader duty to take reasonable care


Lord MacDermott in Winter v Cardiff Rural District Council: one duty, namely to ensure employee's safety o

Based on the common law, independent of any statutory duty: compliance with statutory duty is no defence (Bux v Slough Metals)


At common law: term implied into all contracts of employment that reasonable care will be taken to ensure the health & safety of employees (Johnstone v Bloomsbury AHA) - cannot be excluded (s2(1) UCTA)


Compulsory insurance to cover such claims: Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 and Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1998

To provide a safe place of work


Smith v Charles Baker and Sons: basic obligation to ensure that the workplace is safe - defects in the premises and hazardous activities taking place on them


WIlsno v Tyneside Cleaning: duty existed in relation to third party premises eg a window cleaner (although standard would be lower)

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