Green v Fibreglass
Assizes (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Citations:  2 QB 245;  3 WLR 71;  2 All ER 521; (1958) 102 SJ 472;  CLY 2227.
The defendant leased some officers. They contracted the claimant to clean those offices. The defendant also hired reputable contractors to wire the building, including an electric fire. The contractors were negligent. As a result, the fire’s wiring injured the claimant while she was cleaning it. The defendant had no reason to believe that the fire was dangerous or that the contractors had been negligent. The claimant sued the defendant for occupiers liability. The defendant relied on s.2(4)(b) of the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 to show they did not breach the duty owed to the claimant.
Section 2(4)(b) states that where the danger is ‘due to the faulty execution of any work of construction, maintenance or repair’ of an independent contract, the occupier is not liable if it was reasonable to entrust the work to the independent contractor and the occupier took any steps which were reasonable ‘to satisfy himself that the contractor was competent and that the work had been properly done.’
- Did the defendant satisfy the requirements of s.2(4)(b)?
The court held in favour of the defendant. It was reasonable to entrust the work to the contractors because of the special skill involved in electrical wiring. The circumstances were such that there was no reason for the defendant to take special steps to verify that the work had been done properly.
This Case is Authority For…
The occupier cannot rely on s.2(4)(b) where the work does not require any special skill or experience and the occupier could have done it themselves. s.2(4)(b) is more likely to be fulfilled where the work requires special skill or experience.