D and F Estates v Church Commissioners for England: HL 14 Jul 1988

The House considered the liability of main contractors on a construction site for the negligence of it sub-contractors.
Lord Bridge said: ‘It is trite law that the employer of an independent contractor is, in general, not liable for the negligence or other torts committed by the contractor in the course of the execution of the work. To this general rule there are certain well-established exceptions or apparent exceptions. Without enumerating them it is sufficient to say that it was accepted by Mr. Fernyhough on behalf of the present appellants that the instant case could not be accommodated within any of the recognised and established categories by which the exceptions are classified. But it has been rightly said that the so-called exceptions
‘are not true exceptions (at least so far as the theoretical nature of the employer’s liability is concerned) for they are dependent upon a finding that the employer is, himself, in breach of some duty which he personally owes to the plaintiff. The liability is thus not truly a vicarious liability and is to be distinguished from the vicarious liability of a master for his servant:’ see Clerk and Lindsell on Torts, 15th ed.”
Lord Bridge of Harwich, Lord Templeman, Lord Ackner, Lord Oliver of Aylmerton, Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle
[1988] UKHL 4, [1989] AC 177
England and Wales
Appeal fromD and F Estates v Church Commissioners for England CA 1988
The main contractor on the site subcontracted the interior plastering. Fifteen years later, the plasterwork collapsed causing injury. The plasterer had not used the plaster specified.
Held: Appeal allowed. A contractor may have contractual or . .

Cited by:
CitedFarraj and Another v King’s Healthcare NHS Trust (KCH) and Another CA 13-Nov-2009
The claimant parents each carried a gene making any child they bore liable to suffer a serious condition. On a pregnancy the mother’s blood was sent for testing to the defendants who sent it on to the second defendants. The condition was missed, . .
CitedWoodland v The Swimming Teachers’ Association and Others QBD 17-Oct-2011
The court was asked as to the vicarious or other liability of a school where a pupil suffered injury at a swimming lesson with a non-employee during school time, and in particular whether it had a non-delegable duty to ensure the welfare of children . .
CitedWoodland v Essex County Council CA 9-Mar-2012
The claimant had been injured in a swimming pool during a lesson. The lesson was conducted by outside independent contractors. The claimant appealed against a finding that his argument that they had a non-delegable duty of care was bound to fail. . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 February 2021; Ref: scu.248717