McWilliams v Sir William Arrol and Company Ltd: HL 21 Feb 1962

Damages were sought after the death of the pursuer’s husband working for the respondent. The trial judge had been satisfied that even if the defendants had performed their duty at common law and pursuant to statute, and had provided the deceased steel erector with a safety harness, he would not have worn it, even working 70ft above ground, and he therefore suffered no loss as a consequence of the breach of duty complained of.
Held: The claim failed. The House, applying the ‘but for’ test held that the breach of duty did not cause his death. Once the employer is shown to be in breach of duty to provide equipment, the assumption is that it would have been used, because a reasonable employee would use it, unless the employer proves otherwise.
Lord Reid said: ‘In the end when all the evidence has been brought out it rarely matters where the onus originally lay: The question is which way the balance of probability has come to rest’.
Lord Chancellor, Viscount Simonds, Lord Reid, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, Lord Devlin
[1962] UKHL 3, [1962] 1 WLR 295, [1962] 1 All ER 623, [1961] UKHL 8, 1962 SLT 121, 1962 SC (HL) 70
Factories Act 1937
Cited by:
CitedAllied Maples Group Ltd v Simmons and Simmons CA 12-May-1995
Lost chance claim – not mere speculative claim
Solicitors failed to advise the plaintiffs sufficiently in a property transaction. A warranty against liability for a former tenant’s obligations under leases had not been obtained. The trial judge held that, on a balance of probabilities, there was . .
CitedHampshire Police v Taylor CA 9-May-2013
The officer had been cut by glass when clearing out a cannabis factory. The risk assessment had identified only a need for latex gloves. She said that given the environment heavier garden gloves should have been provided. The Chief Constable . .
CitedDurkin v DSG Retail Ltd and Another SC 26-Mar-2014
Cancellation of Hire Finance Contract
The claimant had bought a PC with a finance agreement with the respondent. He rejected it a day later, but the respondent refused to cancel the credit agreement. The respondent had threatened to report his non-payment to credit reference companies, . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 29 August 2021; Ref: scu.248544