Blog

Another case of more than one wrongdoer causing injury

Richard Faulks

23 Dec 2019

Topics

  • Building & Construction
  • Commercial Disputes
  • Personal Injury

Recently, we published an article concerning Hyblewski v Bellerive Homes Pty Ltd – an ACT case where more than one party failed to act with reasonable care, causing defects in the building. In another case, with a far more serious outcome, the acts of various parties led to a gas explosion that caused serious injuries.

The case

In Hossain v Unity Grammar College Limited & Ors [2019] NSW SC 1313, the injured person was a caretaker and night watchman at a college. He sustained serious injury in a gas explosion that occurred while an LpG system was being installed at the college. There were a series of different businesses involved in carrying out the work, including the principal contractor on the site and a plumber who was engaged to carry out work on a regulator installed by another party. There was also a private building certifier.

Liability

The college argued that it had no liability because it relied on the expertise of those dealing with the gas fittings and supply. That argument, however, was rejected and the judge found that the college owed a non-delegable duty of care during the whole period of the installation of the LPG system.

Interestingly, the judge also held other parties had failed and that their failures had contributed to the incident and the injuries caused:

  • the principal contractor was found to have been in a situation where it should have known of the incompetent installation of the system and should have engaged an independent contractor to test and inspect it.
  • the plumbers and contractors involved should have been aware of the fault and remedied it.
  • the supplier of the LPG tank failed to include a compliance plate as required and that was also found to have been a breach of duty of care.
  • the certifier failed to obtain proper evidence of compliance in relation to the installation.

Ultimately, the judge found that all of the parties were liable and should contribute equally to the substantial damages awarded.

How can we help?

This case shows how more than one party can be held responsible for the outcome of a number of failings that cause a significant incident, such as an explosion leading to injury.

If you’d like to find out more about proportional liability, contact our Commercial Disputes team on 02 6285 8000 or by email.