Woodland 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 during school time. The pool supervision wasthrough employees of a company sub-contracting to the local authority providing the lessons.
Held: The claim failed. There were fundamental differences between vicarious liability and the finding of a non-delegable duty. Such duties had been found in a hospital situation, but not otherwise. Whilst a non-delegable duty on a school might arise in certain circumstances, one did not arise in this case. ‘To recognise a duty as arguable in the present case would thus be that marked extension of the common law which policy tends against. Even greater caution should apply to recognition of new categories of non-delegable duty than does to an expansion of negligence liability, since to recognise an intermediate category between strict insurance against injury and negligence itself is to suggest that the scope of the latter, though augmented by the principles of vicarious liability, is insufficient, even if gently extended, to meet the demands of that which is fair just and reasonable in the circumstances.’

Langstaff J
[2011] EWHC 2631 (QB), [2012] PIQR P3, [2012] ELR 76
England and Wales
CitedDavie v New Merton Board Mills Ltd HL 1959
The employer provided an employee with a simple metal tool, a drift, with no apparent defect, which had, in fact, been manufactured to excessive hardness, as the result of negligent heat treatment by the otherwise reputable manufacturer. That was a . .
CitedWilson v Tyneside Window Cleaning Co CA 24-Apr-1958
Pearce LJ said that if an employer sends an employee to work, ‘for instance in a respectable private house’, he could not be held negligent for not visiting the house himself ‘to see if the carpet in the hall created a trap’. . .
CitedBrown v Nelson and others 1971
A pupil at an approved school went on an Outward Bound course including riding on a cable and pulley slung between two trees. From the cable hung a knotted rope. When the pupil got onto the rope the cable snapped, and he fell with it. He suffered . .
CitedD 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 . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust CA 16-Mar-2005
The claimant had sought damages against his employer, saying that they had failed in their duty to him under the 1997 Act in failing to prevent harassment by a manager. He appealed a strike out of his claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The . .
CitedA v Ministry of Defence; Re A (A Child) CA 7-May-2004
The wife of a British Army soldier serving in Germany delivered a premature baby, ‘A’, with a German obstetrician in a German hospital. A suffered brain damage in the birth as a result of the obstetrician’s negligence. The mother claimed against the . .
CitedWilsons and Clyde Coal Co Ltd v English HL 19-Jul-1937
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 . .
CitedGold v Essex County Council CA 1942
The hospital was held accountable for an injury caused by negligence of an employee radiographer. The main issue was whether the authority could be vicariously liable even for employees in cases where their employment called for the exercise of . .
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, . .
CitedCarmarthenshire County Council v Lewis HL 17-Feb-1955
The House considered the unexplained fact that in the temporary absence of the teacher (who, on the evidence, was not negligent) it was possible for a child of four to wander from the school premises onto the highway, through a gate which was either . .
CitedCommonwealth v Introvigne 1982
(High Court of Australia) A pupil was injured when he swung, whilst skylarking unsupervised, from a halyard attached to a flagpole in the school quadrangle. The halyard was in turn connected to a pulley which was part of a truck attached to the top . .
DoubtedM v Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority 1998
(Huddersfield County Court) . .
MentionedCaparo Industries Plc v Dickman and others HL 8-Feb-1990
Limitation of Loss from Negligent Mis-statement
The plaintiffs sought damages from accountants for negligence. They had acquired shares in a target company and, relying upon the published and audited accounts which overstated the company’s earnings, they purchased further shares.
Held: The . .
CitedEllis v Wallsend District Hospital 1989
(Court of Appeal of New South Wales) Samuels JA discussed the circumstances in which a non-delegable duty of care arises: ‘It arises from a relationship which combines the dependence of A upon the reasonable care, skill and judgment of B with the . .
CitedCamkin v Bishop CA 1941
The Court heard an appeal by the school from a finding of liability where boys from the school were allowed to help a farmer by working in a field, unsupervised, and one of them was struck so badly in the eye by a clod of earth thrown amongst them . .
CitedFitzgerald v Hill 16-Sep-2008
(Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal) TORTS – NEGLIGENCE – ESSENTIALS OF ACTION FOR NEGLIGENCE – DUTY OF CARE – SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND DUTIES – OTHER CASES – plaintiff child was a member of a tae kwon do academy in Townsville – class . .
CitedAM v Reverend Joseph Hendron and others OHCS 13-Sep-2005
Serious abuse was said to have been inflicted by monks of the De La Salle order on those in their charge at an approved school in Scotland. The former pupil claimant contended that the SED owed him a non-delegable duty which entitled him to . .
CitedKondis v State Transport Authority 16-Oct-1984
(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 . .
CitedKLB v British Columbia 2-Oct-2003
Canlii (Supreme Court of Canada) Torts – Liability – Intentional torts – Abuse of children by foster parents – Whether government can be held liable for harm children suffered in foster care – Whether government . .
CitedNew South Wales v Lepore 6-Feb-2003
Austlii (High Court of Australia) 1. Appeal allowed in part
2. Paragraph 2 of the order of the Court of Appeal of New South Wales made on 23 April 2001 set aside, and in its place, order that the judgment . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromWoodland 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. . .
At QBDWoodland v Essex County Council SC 23-Oct-2013
The claimant had been seriously injured in an accident during a swimming lesson. She sought to claim against the local authority, and now appealed against a finding that it was not responsible, having contracted out the provision of swimming . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Vicarious Liability, Negligence, Education

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.445490