The word tort is derived from the latin word tortus, meaning a wrong. Tort law is the law concerned with allowing the victims of harmful actions, whether caused deliberately or by negligence to claim compensation. In order to advise Shane who, if any one, he can sue for compensation for his injuries. It is important to discuss what roles the other parties played in the accident. Warne is an employer of an independent contractor (Hingis Ltd) who are a firm specialising in tree management. When an individual causes injury directly to another they will be liable for the tort committed. But when a person is liable for a tort committed by another it is called vicarious liability. For example if an employers, employee commits an act while at work then the employer can be held vicarious liable. Generally an employer or client in this case is not held vicariously liable for tort committed by independent contractors. The claimant normally will have to sue the contractor. However there are exceptions to the rule if the circumstances are an extra-hazardous activity. For example in Honeywill and Stein v Larkin Bros Ltd (1933) Honeywill engaged Larkin to take photographs of the interior of a cinema. Larkin used a flashlight which involved the ignition of magnesium powder. The camera was placed too close to a curtain on the stage and the entire theatre caught fire. The Court of Appeal held that the taking of photographs in this way was an ‘extra-hazardous’ activity for which Honeywill could not delegate responsibility to the photographer, and thus remained liable to the owners of the cinema for the damage caused. In Salsbury v Woodland (1969) a case which is very similar to our case. The owner of a house employed a tree-felling contractor to remove a large tree in his front garden. The contactor removed the tree in a negligent manner which broke a pair of telephone wires running across the garden which left the wires in the road causing an obstruction. Salsbury went into the road to remove the wires when a car approached at speed. Salsbury, realising that a collision was inevitable, threw himself onto the grass verge but his fall caused a tumour in his spine to bleed which brought about paralysis. Salsbury sued the house owner, the tree contractor and the car driver. The Court of Appeal held that the general rule should apply; namely that the householder should not be liable for the negligence of the tree contractor who was an independent contractor. The removal of the tree was not work of an inherently dangerous nature and could not be treated as an exception to the rule within Honeywill doctrine. From this case it concludes that Warne should not be liable because it was not foreseeable the contractor would mismanage the work and he acted reasonably by employing a specialist tree contactor.
Hingis are a specialist tree contactor who have mismanaged the work and broke the telephone wires leaving them trailing across the road.
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