• In the case of Heaven v Pender 1883 11 Q.B.D 503, the duty of care principle was first proposed.

Facts of the Case

  • D, a dock owner, supplied and put up a staging outside a ship in his dock under a contract with the shipowner.
  • C was a workman in the employ of a ship painter who had contracted with the shipowner to paint the outside of the ship.
  • To do the painting, C went on and used the staging when one of the ropes by which it was slung, being unfit for use when supplied by D, broke and C fell into the dock and was injured.
  • The ropes had been supplied by D as part of the machinery of the staging and there was evidence that they had been scorched and were unfit for use with safety at the time the staging was put up, and that reasonable care had not been taken by D as to their state and condition at the time.

Issues in Heaven v Pender 1883 11 Q.B.D 503

  • Was D under a duty of care to ensure the safety of C

Held by Court of Appeal

  • Held in favour of D

Brett M.R

  • It was held that the claimant being engaged on work on the vessel in the performance of which the defendant as dock owner was interested, the defendant was under an obligation to take reasonable care.
  • It was also held that a duty arose to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger of personal or property damaged.

Cotton LJ

“Duty must exist as to things supplied by the dock owner for immediate use in the dock, of which the control is not retained by the dock owner, to the extent of using reasonable care as to the state of the articles when delivered by him to the ship under repair for immediate use in relation to the repairs. For any neglect of those having control  of the ship and the appliances he would not be liable, and to establish his liability it must be proved that the defect which caused the accident existed at the time when the article was supplied by the dock owner.” P.515