In re the Oropesa: CA 1943

Two steam vessels collided. One’s Master sent fifty of his crew in boats to the other ship and about an hour and a half after the collision decided himself to go to that ship and confer with her Master on measures to be taken. He transferred in another lifeboat, which he embarked with sixteen men. The weather was rough and before the lifeboat could reach the other ship it capsized and sank with nine of the occupants drowning. The badly damaged vessel subsequently sank and its owners sued the owners of the other ship. In addition, the parents of one of the deceased sailors joined as plaintiffs. They recovered against the other shipowners. It was argued that the drowning was not caused by the collision and therefore no liability should ensue.
Held: The plea failed: ‘If the master and the deceased in the present case had done something which was outside the exigencies of the emergency, whether from miscalculation or from error, the plaintiffs would be debarred from saying that a new cause had not intervened. The question is not whether there was new negligence, but whether there was a new cause. I think that is what Lord Sumner emphasized in The Paludina. To break the chain of causation it must be shown that there is something which I will call ultroneous, something unwarrantable, a new cause which disturbs the sequence of events, something which can be described as either unreasonable or extraneous or extrinsic.’ They were not prepared to say that in all the circumstances the fact that the deceased’s death was due to his leaving the ship in the lifeboat and its unexpected capsizing prevented it from be a direct consequence of the casualty.


Lord Wright


[1943] P 32


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedSouth Australia Asset Management Corporation v York Montague Ltd etc HL 24-Jun-1996
Limits of Damages for Negligent Valuations
Damages for negligent valuations are limited to the foreseeable consequences of advice, and do not include losses arising from a general fall in values. Valuation is seldom an exact science, and within a band of figures valuers may differ without . .
CitedGreen and Another v Alexander Johnson (A Firm) and Another ChD 26-May-2004
The judgment related to the assessment of damages for professional negligence by the defendants. The court deprecated the practice of separating off assessments of damages from the principal claim, since this created a risk of confusion. The . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Damages, Transport

Updated: 13 May 2022; Ref: scu.197925