Case Study of T Knight Group and the Knight Plaza Building Tort Cases
Academic Subject: Modern Law
Word Count: 2000
Submitted by: Student
The Modern law of negligence was established from the land mark case Donoghue v Stevenson which formulated the specific requirements for proving negligence. Liability for negligence arises when one person is known to breach of duty to another (Cooke, 2013). Lord Atkin’s neighbour principle established that people must take reasonable care not to injure others who could foreseeably by affected by their action or inaction. Lord Atkin further used this concept of legal neighbours in which he commented, “The man who swears unto his neighbor and dissappointeth him not is a person commended by the law of morality and the Law enforces that by an action for breach of contract.”(Chapman, 2010).
For these specific cases negligence is established using the following elements:
All six of these individuals have suffered some sort of loss in regards to property, business, life, and mental health from the particular construction and design of the Knight Plaza. It seems as though the specific design of the building is cause a nuisance in the area for many pedestrians, residents, and business owners. Clearly it is evident from this premise that the owners of the building have been negligent to public safety (Finch & Fafinski, 2011) which violates various premises, statutes, laws that have been established by the government and courts.
T Knight Group and their Knight Plaza Building is responsible for acting negligently in their design of the building as they have breached the neighbor principle since the defendants in each of the situations are liable for their careless act where they caused foreseeable loss and injury to each of the claimants. A duty principle that is established from Heaven v Pender (1883) asserts that when A is placed in a position with regard to another that everyone of ordinary sense would recognize that if A did not use ordinary care and skill a damage or injury can result to the self or property of C, therefore duties arise to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger. Furthermore, on the basis of Lord Atkin’s judgment in Donoghue v Stevenson  a general test was established for the existence of a duty of care which can be applied to these scenarios. It was established that reasonable care needs to be taken to avoid acts or omissions that can reasonably be foreseen to likely injure your neighbour, which is apparent in Harvey v Singer Manufacturing Co Ltd.
According to law, a neighbor is persons who are closely and directly affected by an act of a person that they need reasonably have them in contemplation as being affected when directing their mind to the acts or omissions in inquiry. Further the case of Caparo Industries plc v Dickman  established the duty of care in which harm must be reasonable foreseesble established from the previously mentioned case; the parties must be in relationship of proximity; lastly, it must be fair, just and reasonable to impose liability. T Knight Group has constructed their building in Bradford which puts the building in interaction with locals, such as other businesses, pedestrians, and others that are in the area of the building. Also, the scenario points, that the owners of the Knight Plaza Building; T Knight Group have been aware of the heat, light, and wind issues that the building may cause since May 2013, five months after the opening of the building. All three cases of negligence had occurred after May 2013 (June 2013 Ms. Hallam, Summer months, Rahim Khan, and October 2013 Shaz Logistics, Mr. Chapple, Mr. Pandy, Ms. Pandy, and Mr. Ahmed). It is clear that the defendant (T Knight Group) has an existence of duty to the claimants, it was clearly breached, which resulted in damage to the claimants; thus negligence is established.
Ms. Hallam’s car had suffered damages from when she had parked it opposite of the Knight Plaza Building. According to Ms. Hallam, there were faded patches in the paintwork, kinks in bodywork, and a portion of the rear tyre seemed a bit melted. Ms. Hallam then tested the assertions of local shop owners of the “laser beam” produced when the building catches the sun and projects it on the opposite road. It was concluded that the light reflecting off the building could create temperature that were reaching 70° C. Clearly, Ms. Hallam, the claimant can claim for damages to her car as the defendants had ignored foreseeability of harm. Such an assertion can be defended by alluding to the case of Margereson & Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd . The case concluded that the factory was liable to the claimant as they knew or ought to have known that asbestos dust was escaping from the factories into the surrounding street and could cause harm to people who were exposed to it, further evidence in similar judgment held is also found in various other cases. Thus, the same premise can be applied to the scenario, T Knight Group should know; which they did, or ought to have known that the design and structure of the building could cause loss, damage or harm.
This same case can be applied to the case of Shaz Logistics, Darran Chapple, Andy & Mandy Pandy, and Muz Ahmed. It has already been established that the Plaza building has a care of duty; further, the defendant has breached this care of duty, similar to the case of Baker v Willoughby  which resulted in the cause of the damages suffered by Ms. Hallam, the claimant. Using the ‘but for’ test, it can be established that the damage was exclusively caused from the breach of duty. This test is evident from the case Chester v Afshar (2004) in which the surgeon breached care of duty by not warning patient of possible risks of operation. The same principles can be applied to this scenario as there was no sign or warning that outlined that damage can be caused to life or property of an individual that parked in the area or was present in the area in which the building caused heat issues, the same . Therefore, Ms. Hallam, the claimant has the prospect for having the defendant pay for damages of the car that had resulted from the light.
The case of Mr. Khan is a complex one as; it is true that negligence of fixing the design and structure of the Knight Plaza building has led to a decrease in customers at Mr. Khan’s shop. However, Mr. Khan is already being persecuted for trespassing on the Knight Plaza Building and caught on CCTV camera throwing stones through the windows of the building which has led to £75,000 of damage. Based on the case, the disturbance of light and product of heat from the buildings structure causes Mr. Khan to lose £50 per day. Mr. Khan could have made a claim under Tort law for negligence as well as tortuous interference of business. Clearly, the light is affecting the incoming of potential customers to Mr. Khan’s sandwich shop. According to the principles of tortuous interference, it is an occurrence when a person intentionally damages the claimant’s contractual or business relationships (Turner, 2010). Tortuous interference of business relationships or activities is irrespective of whether they are involved in a contract.
According to the scenario, the T Knight Group was aware of the light issues that were being caused by the building, however no efforts were taken to repair or minimize the disturbance. Therefore, the defendant can be termed as intentionally leaving the premises in error. The light reflecting from the building projects onto the pavement outside of claimant’s shop. Although it is not a direct interference, the resultant light is driving customers away who are avoiding the heat and light by avoiding his shop all together. Such a claim by claimant can be made as it was evident from the case Keeble v Hickeringill , which was styled as a trespass on the case. It was described that the actionable conduct was not directly driving prospective customers away but rather eliminating the subject matter of the prospective business. It was concluded by Justice Holt, that he that hinders another in his trade or livelihood is liable. Hence, it could have been applied in Mr. Khan’s case.
However, Mr. Khan had clearly trespassed on the Plaza area along with causing property damage to the Plaza. Even though, direct presence of Mr. Khan is not considered to be trespasser as the Plaza is a commercial building and located in a publicly administered area, which gives Mr. Khan permission to be on the land. However, Mr. Khan did portray abusive behavior by throwing stones and damaging the building which makes Mr. Khan liable for trespass as seen in Field Common Ltd v Elmbridge  in which it was held that continued presence of the tarmac over the claimants land constituted as trespass. Thus, the principle of Trespass ab initio can be applied; as it asserts that lawful entry becomes an actionable trespass if the defendant abuses their permission to enter the land (Elliott & Quinn, 2013 as seen in the case of League Against Cruel Sports v Scott and others  . If Mr. Khan makes the claim for negligence and tortuous interference, the defendants, T Knight Group, can either absolve themselves from full or partial liability for damages using the principle of illegality. This asserts that if the claimant is involved in wrongdoing at the time of the alleged negligence occurrence, this may extinguish or reduce the defendant’s liability.
For this specific group of cases, very strong winds became the incidental element that had led to a series of personal injuries as well as damage to property. The scenario describes a lorry, which was owned by Shaz Logistics and driven by Darran Chapple, toppling over from a gust of strong wind resulted in the death of pedestrian Andy Pandy, who was a pedestrian. The resulted of the Andy’s death led witnesses Mandy, sister, and Muz Ahmed, friend and co-worker to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is evidence that directly links the design and structure of the Knight Plaza building to the series of accidents. Police scientific investigators have concluded that the concave shape of the side of the building acts as a centrifuge which speeds of the wind resulting it to have hurricane like strength. The main predicament of this scenario is establishing liability. Does it belong to Shaz Logistics’ driver or to T Knight Group, owner of the building? Shaz Logistics and Darran Chapple should not be liable for the series of accidents that had ensued. The main liability belongs to the owners of the building as its design is the main reason that generated a high enough speed which physically altered the direction of the lorry causing it to topple over.
Shaz Logistics and Darran Chapple are non-liable based on the premises set from the case Mansfield v Weetabix (1997). Defendants were the owner of a lorry, their driver had suffered from a malignant insulinoma resulting in him being in a hyperglycemic state, and the driver was unaware of the condition. This caused the driver to crash into the claimants shop causing damages. However, it was asserted that the driver was not in breach of duty and his actions did not fall below the standard of care required. Therefore, it was held that the driver or the company was not at fault. Furthermore the case Counihan and another v Dublin Bus and another  this can be applied to the present scenario as well as Roberts and other v Ramsbottom  in which it was held that action for negligence was through no fault of the drive as he was unable to properly control his vehicle, the defendant as not liable. The standard of care that a driver is obliged to was that which is expected of a reasonably competent driver. Obviously, Darran Chapple was unaware of the strong winds that the building centrifuged as well as being reasonably unaware of the effect it will have on his driving. Thus, Shaz Logistics and driver Mr. Chapple cannot be liable for the death of Andy Pandy, as applied in cases of Hill v Baxter  and Watmore v Jenkins . However, T Knight Group is liable for the damages of the lorry and the injuries that may have been sustained by Mr. Chapple as the cause of the accident related to the design of the building. Furthermore, the driver nor the company is liable for the mental distress that came upon the witnesses, Mandy Pandy or Muz Ahmed.
The negligence of T Knight Group, which resulted in the reasonable foreseeable consequence, impacted the witnesses of the accident to develop PTSD. Under the case of McLoughlin v O’Brian (1983) the claimant was allotted compensation from the defendant due to the development of severe nervous shock which was caused by an accident which injured claimant’s family. Although the claimant was not present at the accident, it was considered that the condition that developed was reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence. The same concept can be applied to the current scenario as the negligence of T Knight Group led to the accident which was witnessed by Mandy and Muz which led to the development of a mental illness that was reasonably foreseeable; also applied in making the decision of Hussain v Chief Constable of West Constabulary and . Donachie v Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police  can also be applied to this scenario as it had established that reasonable foreseeability had been established whether for physical or psychiatric injury or both, it was immaterial for foreseeable injury caused had been caused directly or through another form of injury not reasonably foreseeable.
The case of Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire  is applied to the case of Mandy and Muz using the Alcock test to establish liability. Since both were secondary victims, it needs to be established if they had ties of love and affection to the primary victim Andy. Mandy was the sister of Andy who already implies love and affection while Muz on the other hand was a close friend which also proves that there was a relationship of love and affection. The next two premises of the test are; witness of the event with their own unaided senses and proximity to the event itself or its immediate aftermath. These two premises were also fulfilled with Mandy and Muz as both witnessed the event with their own eyes and were on the block opposite to when the lorry collapsed on Andy. The resultant was the development of PTSD which was caused from witnessing the shocking event; thus fulfilling the last criteria of the Alcock test.
Andy Mandy, being crushed by the lorry, is due to the negligence of the defendant. The accident had resulted in a wrongful death as the defendant’s acts and omissions were the proximate cause of Andy’s injuries and death which is evident from the case Davoren v Health Services Executive/Western Area and others . The defendant’s had created a natural and direct series of events that led to the injury and ultimate death of Andy due to the breach of duty being the material cause of the injury. This is evident in the cases of McGhee v National Coal Board  and Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd  in which the Lords had held that where a breach of duty has a material effect on the likelihood of injury then the subsequent injury will be said to have been caused by the breach Even though, the victim Andy, who may have died can still be compensated which has been outlined in the Fatal Accidents Act of 1976, by person entitled to bring action for bereavement, such as spouse, parents (if legitimate), and mother (if illegitimate); sections 1, 1A, and section 2.
It is clear from the analysis of the various scenarios that T Knight Group and their building The Knight Plaza Building are liable of negligence on all counts of the cases that have been scrutinized. The design and structure of the building along with the events that have been associated to it are clearly the fault of Conway Architects and Angela Somerton, the senior architect who created the building’s innovative shape. Further, Nazia Yaqub of Aveyard Structural Engineers was the one who provided Angela of advice for construction materials. The architectural firm is clearly breaching building regulations that have been established from statutory instruments set out in the Building Act of 1984 s. 60 (1). The approved documents and compliance of the act have outlined how the structure of the building’s design and construction should be. The Approved Documents require the buildings be designed and constructed in such a way to be structurally safe and robust and also not to impair the structural stability of other buildings. The negligence of owners of the group is also evident as the owners of the plaza were aware of the light, wind, and heat issues of the building since May 2013. The incidents of the accidents had taken place after the issues were in notice of the owners of plaza. Each scenario proved negligence on part of the building, foreseeability of harm, duty of care and proving fault.
Building Control Act 1984
S 60 (1)
Fatal Accidents Act of 1976 c.30
S 1 (1)
S 1 (2)
S1 (3) (b)
S1 (3) (c)
S 1A (1)
S 1A (2)
S 2 (1)
Occupiers Liability Act 1984
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Finch E and Fafinski S Tort Law 3rd ed. (Pearson Education 2011)
Turner C, Unlocking Tort 3rd ed. (Hodder Education 2010)
 Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562
 Heaven v Pender  11 QBD 503, [1881-5] All ER Rep 35, CA
 Donoghue v Stevenson  AC 562,  All ER Rep 1, HL
 Harvey v Singer Manufacturing Co Ltd  SC 155, Ct of Sess.
 Caparo Industries plc v Dickman  1 All ER 568,  2 AC 605,  2 WLR 358, HL.
 Magereson v JW Roberts Ltd, Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd  PIQR P358, CA.
 Barker v Corus (UK) Ltd; Murray v British Shipbuilders (Hydrodynamics) Ltd; Patterson v Smiths Docks Ltd and others  3 All ER 785
 Baker v Willoughby  3 All ER 1528,  AC 467,  2 WLR 50, HL.
 Chester v Afshar  4 All ER 587.
 Keeble v Hickeringill  3 Salk 9, 103 ER 1127 [15558-1774- All ER Rep 286, Ct of QB
 Field Common Ltd v Elmbridge BC  EWHC 2079 (Ch)  1 P & CR 1  All ER (D) 141.
 League Against Cruel Sports v Scott and others  1 QB 240,  2 All ER 489
 Manesfield v Weetabix Ltd  1 WLR 1263  RTR 390.
 Michael Counihan v Bus Atha Cliath- Dublin Bus and Arthur Ebbs, Kathleen Counihan v Bus Atha Cliath- Dublin Bus and Arthur Ebbs  IEHC 51 [2001 Nos 557 and 558 P]
 Roberts and others v Ramsbottom  1 All ER 7
 Hill v Baxter  1 All ER 193
 Watmore v Jenkins  2 All ER 868.
 McLoughlin v O’Brian  1 AC 410  2 All ER 298, HL.
 Hussain v Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary  EWCA Civ 1205 [20080 All ER (D).
 Donachi v The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police  EWCA Civ 205,  All ER.
 Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire  I AC 310
 Daveron v H.S.E. and Others  IEHC 460 (2011).
 McGhee v National Coal Board  3 All E. R. 1008, 1 WLR 1.
 Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services ltd  UKHL 22,  1 AC 32,  3 All ER 305.