A more recent version of these Avoiding Occupier notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Tort Law Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Avoiding Occupier's Liability Entrusting Work to Independent Contractors
Situation where visitor suffers loss owing to independent contractor's negligence in carrying out the work o Loss may come from
? Manner in which contractors conduct themselves whilst on premises
? Defect in premises owing to poor workmanship
So, where visitor suffers damage due to "faulty execution of any work of construction, maintenance, or repair", Occupier not normally liable if o S.2(4)(b): Reasonable to entrust work to independent contractor.
? Giliker: which is accepted as being fulfilled when normally work entrusted to independent contractor o S.2(4)(b): Occupier took reasonable steps to satisfy self that contractor was competent.
? Assumption of competence can be made unless occupier knows of previous incompetence
Lord Keith in Ferguson v Welsh : As long as occupier has reasonably chosen seemingly competent contractor o Is not up to occupier to supervise them all of the time
? And only has to supervise if it comes to his attention that unsafe system of work is being used.
? Although does extend in some circumstances to check X is a member of their trade's association or holds relevant qualifications. o S.2(4)(b): Occupier took reasonable steps to satisfy self that work had been done properly.
? Ferguson v Welsh :
Lord Keith: o Would be going a very long way to hold that an occupier of premises liable to the employee of an independent contractor
? arising not from the physical state of the premises
but from an unsafe system of work adopted by the contractor.
? Three factors pertinent here
Nature of work undertaken
Character of Occupier
Evidence of risk left by contractor's work
? Haseldine v Daw: C injured when life in block of flats fell to bottom of shaft owing to negligence of contractors paid to repair lift
Scott LJ: o The landlord of a block of flats does not profess any technical skill with lifts
? Since he can't rely on his own judgement, his duty of care requires him to seek this advice o Having done this, holding him liable would make him an insurer for an independent contractor's negligence.
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