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Case Study of T Knight Group and the Knight Plaza Building Tort Cases

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Type of Academic Paper – Dissertation

Academic Subject – Law

Word Count – 13421 words

Introduction

The Modern Law of negligence was established from the landmark case Donoghue v Stevenson [1932][1], which formulated the specific requirements for proving negligence. Liability for negligence arises when one person is known to breach duty (Cooke, 2013). Lord Atkin’s neighbour principle established that people must take reasonable care not to injure others who could foreseeably be 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 neighbour and disappointed 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:

  1. The defendant owed them a Duty of care.
  2. The defendant was in breach of that duty.
  3. The Breach of duty caused harm in fact or damage.
  4. The harm or damage must not be too remote a consequence of the breach.

All six of these individuals have suffered some sort of loss regarding the 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 causing a nuisance in the area for many pedestrians, residents, and business owners.  Clearly, it is evident from this premise that the building owners have been negligent to public safety (Finch & Fafinski, 2011), which violates various premises, statutes, and laws established by the government courts.

Overview of Scenario

T Knight Group and their Knight Plaza Building are responsible for acting negligently in their building design. They have breached the neighbour principle since the defendants in each situation are liable for their careless actions. They caused foreseeable loss and injury to each of the claimants. A duty principle that is established from Heaven v Pender (1883)[2] asserts that when A is placed in a position concerning another that every one of ordinary sense would recognize that if A did not use ordinary care and skill 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, based on Lord Atkin’s judgment in Donoghue v Stevenson [1932][3], a general test was established for the existence of a duty of care that 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 injure your neighbour, which is apparent in Harvey v Singer Manufacturing Co Ltd[4].

According to law, a neighbour is closely and directly affected by an act of a person they need reasonably have them in contemplation as being affected when directing their minds to the acts or omissions in the inquiry. Further, the case of Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990][5] established the duty of care in which harm must be reasonably foreseeable established from the previously mentioned case; the parties must be in a 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 in the building area. 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 negligence cases 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 the duty to the claimants; it was clearly breached, which resulted in damage to the claimants; thus, negligence is established.

Jennifer Hallam v. Knight Plaza Building, T Knight Group

Ms Hallam’s car had suffered damages from when she had parked it opposite 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 local shop owners’ assertions 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 a temperature that was 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 Margereson & Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd [1996][6]. 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 the similar judgment held is also found in various other cases[7]. 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 building’s design and structure could cause loss, damage or harm.

This same case can be applied to 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 [1969][8] 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 breach of duty exclusively caused the damage. This test is evident from the case Chester v Afshar (2004)[9] in which the surgeon breached care of duty by not warning the patient of possible risks of the 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 an individual’s life or property parked in the area or was present in the area in which the building caused heat issues. Therefore, Ms Hallam, the claimant has the prospect of having the defendant pay for damages of the car that had resulted from the light.

 

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Rahim Khan v. Knight Plaza Building, T Knight Group

The case of Mr Khan is a complex one as; it is true that negligence of fixing the Knight Plaza building’s design and structure 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 building’s windows, which has led to £75,000 of damage. Based on the case, the disturbance of light and the product of heat from the building’s structure causes Mr Khan to lose £50 per day. Mr Khan could have made a claim under Tort law for negligence as well as tortious interference of business. Clearly, the light is affecting the incoming of potential customers to Mr Khan’s sandwich shop. According to tortuous interference principles, 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 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 on the building projects onto the pavement outside of the claimant’s shop. Although it is not a direct interference, the resultant light drives customers away who are avoiding the heat and light by avoiding his shop altogether. Such a claimant can be made as it was evident from the case Keeble v Hickeringill [1706][10], 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 a trespasser as the Plaza is a commercial building and located in a publicly administered area, which permits Mr Khan to be on the land. However, Mr Khan did portray abusive behaviour by throwing stones and damaging the building, making Mr Khan liable for trespass as seen in Field Common Ltd v Elmbridge [2008][11]. It was held that the continued presence of the tarmac over the claimants land constituted 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 [1986][12]. If Mr Khan claims negligence and tortious 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.

Shaz Logistics & Chapple, D. v. Knight Plaza Building, T Knight Group; Pandy, A. v. Knight Plaza Building, T Knight Group; Pandy, M. & Ahmed, M. v. Knight Plaza Building, T Knight Group

For this specific group of cases, powerful winds became the incidental element that had led to a series of personal injuries and property damage. 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 pedestrian Andy Pandy’s death, a pedestrian. Andy’s death led witnesses Mandy, their sister, and Muz Ahmed, friend and co-worker to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is evidence that directly links the Knight Plaza building’s design and structure to the series of accidents. Police scientific investigators have concluded that the side of the building’s concave shape acts as a centrifuge which speeds up the wind, resulting in it having a hurricane-like strength. The main predicament of this scenario is establishing liability. Does it belong to Shaz Logistics’ driver or 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 building’s owners 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 Mansfield v Weetabix (1997)[13]. 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 claimant’s 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 [2005][14] This can be applied to the present scenario as well as Roberts and other v Ramsbottom [1980][15] in which it was held that action for negligence was through no fault of the drive as he was unable to control his vehicle properly, the defendant as not liable. The standard of care that a driver is obliged to be is expected of a reasonably competent driver. Obviously, Darran Chapple was unaware of the strong winds that the building centrifuged and was reasonably unaware of its effect 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 [1958][16] and Watmore v Jenkins [1962][17]. 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 reasonably foreseeable consequence, impacted the accident’s witnesses to develop PTSD. Under the case of McLoughlin v O’Brian (1983)[18], the claimant was allotted compensation from the defendant due to the development of severe nervous shock caused by an accident that injured claimant’s family. Although the claimant was not present at the accident, it was considered that the condition that developed was a 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 deciding Hussain v Chief Constable of West Constabulary[19] and. Donachie v Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police [2004][20] 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 [1992][21] is applied to 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 Andy’s primary victim. Mandy was the sister of Andy, who already implies love and affection while Muz, on the other hand, was a close friend who also proves that there was a relationship of love and affection. The next two premises of the test are; the 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 by witnessing the shocking event; thus fulfilling the Alcock test’s last criteria.

Andy Mandy, being crushed by the lorry, is due to the negligence of the defendant. The accident had resulted in 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 [2011][22]. The defendant’s had created a natural and direct series of events that led to Andy’s injury and ultimate death 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 [1972] [23]and Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd [2002][24] 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 the person entitled to bring an action for bereavement, such as a spouse, parents (if legitimate), and mother (if illegitimate); sections 1, 1A, and section 2.

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Conclusion

It is clear from the analysis of the various scenarios that T Knight Group and their building The Knight Plaza Building are liable for 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 with 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 with 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 building’s design and construction structure should be. The Approved Documents require the buildings to 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 the group owners 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 on the notice of the plaza owners. Each scenario proved negligence on the part of the building, foreseeability of harm, the duty of care and proving fault.

List of Cases

  1. Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1992] I AC 310
  2. Barker v Corus (UK) Ltd; Murray v British Shipbuilders (Hydrodynamics) Ltd; Patterson v Smiths Docks Ltd and others [2006] 3 All ER 785
  3. Baker v Willoughby [1969] 3 All ER 1528, [1970] AC 467, [1970] 2 WLR 50, HL.
  4. Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990] 1 All ER 568, [1990] 2 AC 605, [1990] 2 WLR 358, HL.
  5. Chester v Afshar [2004] 4 All ER 587.
  6. Daveron v H.S.E. and Others [2011] IEHC 460 (2011).
  7. Donachie v The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [2004] EWCA Civ 205, [2004] All ER.
  8. Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, [1932] All ER Rep 1, HL
  9. Field Common Ltd v Elmbridge BC [2008] EWHC 2079 (Ch) [2009] 1 P & CR 1 [2008] All ER (D)
  10. Dublin Bus and Arthur Ebbs [2005] IEHC 51 [2001 Nos 557 and 558 P]
  11. Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services ltd [2002] UKHL 22, [2003] 1 AC 32, [2002] 3 All ER 305.
  12. Harvey v Singer Manufacturing Co Ltd [1960] SC 155, Ct of Sess.
  13. Heaven v Pender [1883] 11 QBD 503, [1881-5] All ER Rep 35, CA
  14. Hill v Baxter [1958] 1 All ER 193
  15. Hussain v Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary [2008] EWCA Civ 1205 [20080 All ER (D).
  16. Jones v Dennison [1971] RTR 174, CA, 36(1) Digest (Reissue) 233, 923
  17. Keeble v Hickeringill [1706] 3 Salk 9, 103 ER 1127 [15558-1774- All ER Rep 286, Ct of QB
  18. League Against Cruel Sports v Scott and others [1986] 1 QB 240, [1985] 2 All ER 489
  19. Mayerson v JW Roberts Ltd, Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd [1996] PIQR P358, CA.
  20. Manesfield v Weetabix Ltd [1998] 1 WLR 1263 [1998] RTR 390.
  21. McGhee v National Coal Board [1972] 3 All E. R. 1008, 1 WLR 1.
  22. McLoughlin v O’Brian [1983] 1 AC 410 [1982] 2 All ER 298, HL.
  23. Michael Counihan v Bus Atha Cliath- Dublin Bus and Arthur Ebbs, Kathleen Counihan v Bus Atha Cliath-
  24. Nettleship v Weston [1971] 3 All ER 581, [1971] 2 QB 691, [1971] 3 WLR 370, [1971] RTR 425, CA
  25. O’Brien v Parker [1997] 2 ILRM 170
  26. R v Gosney [1971] 3 All ER 220, [1971] 2 QB 674, [1971] 3 WLR 343, 135 JP 529, 55 Cr App R 502, [1971] RTR 321, CA
  27. R v Isitt [1978] RTR 211, CA.
  28. R v Spurge [1961] 2 All ER 688, [1961] 2 QB 205, [1961] 3 WLR 23, 125 JP 502, 59 LGR 323, 45 Cr App 191, CCA
  29. Roberts and others v Ramsbottom [1980] 1 All ER 7
  30. Watmore v Jenkins [1962] 2 All ER 868, [1962] 2 QB 572, [1962] 3 WLR 463, 126 JP 432, 60 LGR 325
  31. Waugh v James K Allan Ltd 1964 SC (HL) 102, 1964 SLT 269, [1964] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 1, HL

List of Statutes

Building Control Act of 1984

S 60 (1)

Fatal Accidents Act of 1976 c.30

S 1 (1)

S 1 (2)

S1 (3)

S1 (3) (b)

S1 (3) (c)

S 1A (1)

S 1A (2)

S 2 (1)

Occupiers Liability Act 1984

S 2(a)

S 2(b)

S 5

Bibliography

Books

Chapman M The Snail and the Ginger Beer. (Wildy, Simmonds & Hill Publishing 2010)

Cooke J Law of Tort 11th ed. (Pearson Education Ltd 2013)

Elliott C and Quinn F Tort Law 9th ed. (Pearson Education 2013)

Finch E and Fafinski S Tort Law 3rd ed. (Pearson Education 2011)

Turner C, Unlocking Tort 3rd ed. (Hodder Education 2010)

References

[1] Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562

[2] Heaven v Pender [1883] 11 QBD 503, [1881-5] All ER Rep 35, CA

[3] Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, [1932] All ER Rep 1, HL

[4] Harvey v Singer Manufacturing Co Ltd [1960] SC 155, Ct of Sess.

[5] Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990] 1 All ER 568, [1990] 2 AC 605, [1990] 2 WLR 358, HL.

[6] Mayerson v JW Roberts Ltd, Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd [1996] PIQR P358, CA.

[7] Barker v Corus (UK) Ltd; Murray v British Shipbuilders (Hydrodynamics) Ltd; Patterson v Smiths Docks Ltd and others [2006] 3 All ER 785

[8] Baker v Willoughby [1969] 3 All ER 1528, [1970] AC 467, [1970] 2 WLR 50, HL.

[9] Chester v Afshar [2004] 4 All ER 587.

[10] Keeble v Hickeringill [1706] 3 Salk 9, 103 ER 1127 [15558-1774- All ER Rep 286, Ct of QB

[11] Field Common Ltd v Elmbridge BC [2008] EWHC 2079 (Ch) [2009] 1 P & CR 1 [2008] All ER (D)  141.

[12] League Against Cruel Sports v Scott and others [1986] 1 QB 240, [1985] 2 All ER 489

[13] Manesfield v Weetabix Ltd [1998] 1 WLR 1263 [1998] RTR 390.

[14] Michael Counihan v Bus Atha Cliath- Dublin Bus and Arthur Ebbs, Kathleen Counihan v Bus Atha Cliath- Dublin Bus and Arthur Ebbs [2005] IEHC 51 [2001 Nos 557 and 558 P]

[15] Roberts and others v Ramsbottom [1980] 1 All ER 7

[16] Hill v Baxter [1958] 1 All ER 193

[17] Watmore v Jenkins [1962] 2 All ER 868.

[18] McLoughlin v O’Brian [1983] 1 AC 410 [1982] 2 All ER 298, HL.

[19] Hussain v Chief Constable of West Mercia Constabulary [2008] EWCA Civ 1205 [20080 All ER (D).

[20] Donachie v The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [2004] EWCA Civ 205, [2004] All ER.

[21] Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire [1992] I AC 310

[22] Daveron v H.S.E. and Others [2011] IEHC 460 (2011).

[23] McGhee v National Coal Board [1972] 3 All E. R. 1008, 1 WLR 1.

[24] Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services ltd [2002] UKHL 22, [2003] 1 AC 32, [2002] 3 All ER 305.

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