Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Spencer on Byron

I quote from the decision, the most central part-

"The Supreme Court has clarified in Sunset Terraces that the rationale for the
Hamlin duty is based upon the control which councils have over building projects
and on the general reliance which people place on councils when acquiring premises
to be used as a home. The issue of council control is a neutral factor here since
councils have control over the issue of building consents for both commercial and
residential building components. As to general reliance, we do not consider the
Council ought reasonably to have foreseen that purchasers of the residential
apartments would place reliance on the Council in a situation where they were
effectively buying into an entire complex in which the residential component
represented only a small fraction of a building functioning as a substantial hotel. In
those circumstances, the law should not deem the Council to have assumed
responsibility. It would follow that the necessary degree of proximity is not

From this we can derive several things. The duties of care for residential homes will 
definitely not be extended beyond non residential construction, which will not please 
the many Boards of Trustees of leaking schools. And where is the building industry in all this?
Where did the standards drop or fail to prevent this disaster for so many? 
Perhaps we also learn that the current Court of Appeal has no stomach for the sort 
of lawmaking often heavily criticised by business groups, perhaps because they realise 
that this can shake up standards. But they don't need to worry with this bench.


Anonymous said...

You say "From this we can derive several things. The duties of care for residential homes will
definitely not be extended beyond non residential construction...", but this matter could still be taken to the Supreme Court and the duty extended beyond residential into commercial. No case has been decisive on the matter as yet. Or, at least, none that I know of.

Chris LaHatte said...

I agree the Supreme Court could do this, but it is such a significant change in very long standing judicial policy, that the judges may consider this too akin to judges making law which should be the province of Parliament.