AN END TO THE SHORT REIGN OF ANNS: THE CONTRACTED LIABILITY OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN AUSTRALIA FOR DEFECTIVE STRUCTURES
AbstractA line of English authorities in the 1970's appeared to herald in the framework for an expanded liability of local authorities in respect of builing approval and inspection. They commenced with the encouragement provided in Home Office v. Dorset Yacht Co. Ltd10 to the recognition of duties in respect of the supervisory functions of public authorities. The impetus was accelerated in Dutton v. Bognor Regis Urban District Council1 and culminated in the decision of the House of Lords in Anns v. Merton London Borough Council, which was taken as having settled not only the parameters for the liability of local authorities in respect of building control and inspection, but the fundamental approach to the existence of duties of care in any negligence action. The influence of Anns was short lived and came to an end, for Australian purposes, with the High Court's decision in Sutherland Shire Council v. HeymanJ3 As part of the High Court's current reworking of the fundamentals of negligence, the case not only put an apparent end to the influence of Anns in respect of the proper approach to duties of care, but reduced significantly the extent of the liability of local authorities so readily found by the House of Lords just seven years previously. The purpose of this article is to consider An ns and its impact and the reasoning of the High Court in Heyman which brought about its demise.
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