Kondis v State Transport Authority; 16 Oct 1984

References: [1984] HCA 61, (1984) 154 CLR 672, (1984) 55 ALR 225, (1984) 58 ALJR 531, (1984) Aust Torts Reports 80-311
Links: Austlii
Coram: Mason J
(High Court of Australia) Mason J discussed the concept of the personal duty which Lord Wright expounded in Wilson and said that it made it impossible to draw a convincing distinction between the delegation of performance of the employer’s duty to an employee and delegation to an independent contractor. As Mason J said: ‘On the hypothesis that the duty is personal or incapable of delegation, the employer is liable for its negligent performance, whether the performance be that of an employee or that of an independent contractor’ and as to the existence of a non-delegable duty: ‘when we look to the classes of case in which the existence of a non-delegable duty has been recognised, it appears that there is some element in the relationship between the parties that makes it appropriate to impose on the defendant a duty to ensure that reasonable care and skill is taken for the safety of the persons to whom the duty is owed . . The element in the relationship between the parties which generates a special responsibility or duty to see that care is taken may be found in one or more of several circumstances. The hospital undertakes the care, supervision and control of patients who are in special need of care. The school authority undertakes like special responsibilities in relation to the children whom it accepts into its care. If the invitor be subject to a special duty, it is because he assumes a particular responsibility in relation to the safety of his premises and the safety of his invitee by inviting him to enter them . . In these situations the special duty arises because the person on whom it is imposed has undertaken the care, supervision or control of the person or property of another or is so placed in relation to that person or his property as to assume a particular responsibility for his or its safety, in circumstances where the person affected might reasonably expect that due care will be exercised.’
This case cites:

  • Explained – Wilsons and Clyde Coal Co Ltd -v- English HL ([1938] AC 57, Bailii, [1937] UKHL 2)
    The employer had entrusted the task of organising a safe system of work to an employee as a result of whose negligence another employee was injured. The employer could not have been held liable for its own negligence, since it had taken all . .

This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Farraj and Another -v- King’s Healthcare NHS Trust (KCH) and Another CA (Bailii, [2009] EWCA Civ 1203, (2010) 11 BMLR 131, [2010] PIQR P7, [2010] Med LR 1)
    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, . .
  • Cited – Woodland -v- The Swimming Teachers’ Association and Others QBD (Bailii, [2011] EWHC 2631 (QB), [2012] PIQR P3, [2012] ELR 76)
    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 . .
  • Cited – Woodland -v- Essex County Council CA (Bailii, [2012] EWCA Civ 239, [2013] 3 WLR 853, [2012] ELR 327, [2012] Med LR 419, [2012] PIQR P12, [2012] BLGR 879)
    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. . .