Chubb Fire Ltd v The Vicar of Spalding and Churchwardens and Church Council of The Church of St Mary and St Nicholas, Spalding: CA 20 Aug 2010

The appellants had supplied a dry powder extinguisher to the church. Vandals discharged the extinguisher, requiring substantial sums to be spent cleaning the dust. The church’s insurers sought to recover the costs saying that the appellant should have warned them of the danger. The extinguisher had been appropriate for a kitchen area, but not for the body of the church. The court had found the risk of vandalism to be known when the extiguisher was bought.
Held: Chubb’s appeal was allowed. Any warning would have to be seen in the context of the need to balance the merits of different extinguishers. It was for the church to establish on the balance of probabilities that if advised it would have acted differently. The judge had failed to allow for the evidence that if warned, the church would have taken further professional advice which would have said that the extinguisher was the least wrong approach. The failure to warn was not causative of the damage.
On the issue of whether the acts of the vandals were a novus actus interveniens, the statements in Simmons and IBC were not restricted to the acts of the victim, but could include those of a third party, and ‘ it also does not matter whether you regard the doctrine of ‘new intervening act’ as part of the law of ‘causation’ or ‘remoteness of damage’. The doctrine of ‘new intervening cause’ is used by the courts as one of a number of means by which to decide whether a defendant, whose breach of a duty of care to a claimant has been established, will be responsible for certain consequences of that negligence and the damages that are claimed to flow from those consequences. ‘

Arden, Longmore, Aikens LJJ
[2010] EWCA Civ 981
England and Wales
CitedRoberts and Another v Bettany and Another CA 22-Jan-2001
Buxton LJ considered the nature of the argument as to novus actus interveniens: ‘Although the doctrine of novus actus and the defence of novus actus are sometimes talked of as and presented as simply a question of causation, which at first sight . .
CitedSimmons v British Steel plc HL 29-Apr-2004
The claimant was injured at work as a consequence of the defender’s negligence. His injuries became more severe, and he came to suffer a disabling depression.
Held: the Inner House had been wrong to characterise the Outer House decision as . .
CitedCorr v IBC Vehicles Ltd HL 27-Feb-2008
The claimant’s husband had committed suicide. She sought damages for financial loss from his former employers under the 1976 Act. He had suffered a severe and debilitating injury working for them leading to his depression and suicide. The employers . .
CitedKuwait Airways Corporation v Iraqi Airways Company and Others (Nos 4 and 5) HL 16-May-2002
After the invasion of Kuwait, the Iraqi government had dissolved Kuwait airlines, and appropriated several airplanes. Four planes were destroyed by Allied bombing, and 6 more were appropriated again by Iran.
Held: The appeal failed. No claim . .
CitedSpencer v Wincanton Holdings Ltd (Wincanton Logistics Ltd) CA 21-Dec-2009
The claimant suffered injury for which he sought compensation from his employers. He later had to have his leg amputated as a consequence, but then through his own inadvertence suffered further injury to his other leg and a complete loss of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.421556