A Quick Summary of Haseldine v Daw [1941]

Haseldine v Daw

Case name & citation: Haseldine v Daw & Son Ltd [1941] 3 All ER 156; [1941] 2 KB 343

  • Court and jurisdiction: Court of Appeal, England and Wales
  • Year of the case: 1941
  • The learned judge: Scott LJ
  • Area of law: Occupier’s liability; contractors doing technical work

What is the case about?

Haseldine v Daw & Son Ltd [1941] is a tort law case concerning the liability of an occupier for work performed by independent contractors. It says that a reasonable occupier is expected to hire professionals to inspect systems that he cannot check himself, such as electrical wiring or a lift since he does not have the requisite technical knowledge.

Facts of the case (Haseldine v Daw)

The occupiers of a block of flats employed a firm of lift engineers that they found to be competent to maintain the lift of their premises. The engineers were employed to make periodical inspections of the lift and to adjust it where necessary. On one visit, they had been negligent in adequately repairing the lift. The plaintiff was consequently injured as the lift suddenly fell from the top to the bottom of the lift shaft.

What was the issue here?

The issue, in this case, was whether the occupiers of the premises were liable for the injury caused to the plaintiff. Or whether the engineering company was to be held liable for not effectively repairing the lift.

Judgment of the Court in Haseldine v Daw

The Court of Appeal decided in favour of the occupiers.

The occupiers were not held liable because they had employed engineers who appeared to be competent to undertake the work. They could not be expected to check if the work had been done properly since it was too technical.

The reasoning behind the decision

In general, the occupier shall not be held accountable for the torts committed by independent contractors on the premises if he or she was reasonable in hiring the contractor and took reasonable steps to check the work. Once again, if the work is highly technical, he or she would not be expected to know of defects.

Quote from the case

“The landlord of a block of flats, as occupier of the lifts, does not profess as such to be either an electrical or, as in this case, a hydraulic engineer. Having no technical skill, he cannot rely on his own judgment, and the duty of care towards his invitees requires him to obtain and follow good technical advice. If he did not do so, he would, indeed, be guilty of negligence. To hold him responsible for the misdeeds of his independent contractor would be to make him insure the safety of his lift.”

(As per Scott LJ at p.356)

List of references:

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