In this lesson we will learn about remoteness of damage. The consequences of a wrongful act may be endless. No defendant can be made liable “ad infinitum” for all the consequences which follows his wrongful act. The defendant is only liable for consequences which are not too remote or proximate.
Scott vs Shepherd
A three or lighted squib into crowd, it fell upon X, X to prevent himself threw it or Y, Y in turn threw on B and B lost his one of the eyes
Here A was held liable because the consequences were proximate.
For testing Remoteness of damage there are two tests.
- Tests of Reasonable Foresight
- Tests of Directness
Tests of Reasonable Foresight
According to this test defendant is liable for only consequences which can be foreseen by a reasonable man because it is not too remote.
Test of Directness
According to this test defendant is liable for consequences which directly follows wrongful act.
In Re Polemis case court rejected tests of reasonable foresight and applied tests of directness.
Re Polemis Case
The defendant hired (chartered) a ship. He loaded ship with tin of benzene and petrol. Due to leakage of the tins some petrol collected on the hold of ship. Due to negligence of defendant servant a plank fell on the hold and spark caused fire in the whole ship. Ship was burned totally.
Here defendant was held liable although he cannot reasonably foresee. Test of directness was applied.
Smith vs London South Western Railway co.
Due to negligence of Railway heap of dry grass which was collected into the railway compound caught fire and because of wind, Plaintiff`s cottage was burnt.
Here defendant was held liable. Rest of directness was applied.
But after some time Privy Council rejected the test of directness and said it is not irrelevant.
Wagon Mound Case
A vessel was chartered by appellant. When vessel was taking fuel oil at Sydney Port, due to negligence of appellant`s servant large quantity of oil was spread on water. About 600 ft. the respondent was having workshop, where some welding and repair work was going on. After 60 hours that oil caught fire and whole workshop was destroyed and incurred heavy loss.
In this case trail court applied test of directness and held appellant liable.
But after appeal, The Privy Council decided that the Test of directness is no good law and applied Test of reasonable foresight and held appellant not liable.