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Task: Prepare a detailed report on the Hackshaw V Shaw case of Adelaide Chemical and Fertilizer.
An outstanding account of a negligent act where the owner of a piece of land or property owes an obligation to the trespasser is given in the case of Hackshaw v. Shaw. The case has improved understanding of the varied obligations a property owner has to different types of trespassers. The court's judicial bench has worked particularly hard to pinpoint the specific regulations governing a premises' owner while keeping the law of negligence as the top priority.
According to the law of torts or offences, negligence occurs when a person violates his duty to prevent harming another person. In this instance, a person's duty is defined as a typical obligation of a responsible citizen, which he should uphold in relevant situations. Simply said, the concept behind the term "negligence" is that someone who is responsible for providing sufficient attention and care must do reasonable activities while being aware of potential outcomes that could harm other people and their property.
The main goal of this report is to support the petitioner's position and arguments regarding the duty of care that a person owes trespassers on a property when he is unaware of the owner's presence.
In this instance, Shaw, a farmer, uses a gasoline pump to refuel the machinery and vehicles he uses on his property. It was discovered that someone had taken the gasoline held on the property. Shaw made the decision to stop the theft of gasoline, but his efforts were unsuccessful. In the end, the farm's owner chose to contact the police, who then requested the evidence of the theft. The decision was made by Shaw's family to confront the thief. They eventually came up with a plan to approach the robber at night while armed with rifles and shotguns. The thief Cox and the 16-year-old girl Hacksaw arrived at the farm at night in a stolen car with the headlights off. According to the information given by Hacksaw, the petitioner, Cox stopped the automobile, drove inside the farm, and got out. When the petitioner is shot on her arm by the defendants. When Shaw and his family continued to fire on the car after seeing this, Cox got back into the stolen vehicle and drove away. The petitioner informed the court that the Cox was by himself when he got out of the car. Shaw simply fired a bullet at random to alert Cox. Shaw fired his second shot through the door of the automobile where the petitioner was seated when Cox ran towards it. The windscreen was cracked and automobile tyres were perforated in the sequence of shots that followed. The judge's decision in this case was against the defence attorneys and granted the petitioner's prejudiced contributory negligence. The petitioners had filed a cross-appeal to the higher court at the time the defender requested an appeal. The appeal was approved by a large majority of the judicial bench. The defender was then given a special leave-in to the High Court (Hackshaw v. Shaw (1984) 155 CLR 614).
In the case of Hackshaw v. Shaw, three problems were noted. Since there was a chance that the second person was also trespassing, it was debatable whether the defendant had a duty of care to them. It should also be thought about and debated if the petitioner was equally accountable for her injuries as she might have known she was on someone else's property without permission. When the shot was being fired at the car, it should be determined if the defender was responsible for a duty of care.
Arguments According to the petitioner, the defender's shot was a careless, callous, and intentional act. On the other hand, the defence claimed that on the day of the incident, Cox arrived at the farm with the car's lights off. The Cox was directly ignored when the defence asked him about his intentions. According to the narrative, Cox left his car parked close to the gas station. The second trespasser followed him out of the car, and when she heard the gunshot, she went back inside. She was hurt by the gunshot in the string of shots, and she was in pain. The petitioner was hurt after the bullet entered the car's door, according to the defence.
In the case of Hackshaw v. Shaw, the defender argued that because the petitioner was a forced trespasser, she was not legally entitled to the liability that flowed from the code of conduct between the owner of the property and the trespassers. The defence attorney cited a different case where it was determined that the property owner has no obligations or liabilities towards a forced invader or trespasser while the owner is unaware of the intruder's presence (Commissioner for Railways v. Quinlan (1964) AC 1054). The McHale v. Watson case was cited in this instance as the source for the claim for reimbursement for intrusion. According to the court, if the activities are inadvertent, the owner is not responsible or bears the responsibility.
The bench noted that the defender committed an act of negligence in the case of their gunshot, which resulted in the petitioner's injury. The court's decision focused on two problems in particular. The first question that needed to be addressed was whether the defendant had a duty of care to the petitioner, who was actually trespassing on the property but the owner was unaware of it at the time. The petitioner was not at fault and there was no failure on their part that warranted the refund being postponed or withheld, according to the second point of the decision.
The court noted that in the Hackshaw v. Shaw case, neither the petitioner nor the defender had denied any link or association with the trespasser in question. Since the petitioner was a trespasser in this instance, the owner was unaware of any presence of the petitioner on his property. The only person for whom the owner had a duty of care was Cox because the second trespasser was neither anticipated nor anticipated.
If contributory negligence is taken into consideration, the jury had doubts about the petitioners since she testified that she was unaware of Cox's plan to steal gasoline. She has argued by even disputing that she was not aware of the theft and that she was careless in entering other people's property. The court's bench has determined that notwithstanding the petitioner's contention that the defender's facts and arguments are false, she should not have accompanied Cox in trespassing on the defender's property. As a result, the defender was also charged with contributing to negligence and held accountable.
Critical Evaluation and Verdict
The following criteria and components should be shown in court to prove negligence: 1. Establishing the person's obligation to exercise reasonable care; 2. Demonstrating the breach of that obligation.
3. The breach's actions caused harm to other persons.
4. The party with the onus of proof could have foreseen the potential harm (Legal Services Commission of South Australia, 2012).
The goal of the Donoghue v. Stevenson case was to investigate the neighbor's principle's duty of care. The court made the observation in this case that the person who can foresee the likelihood of harm or injury being inflicted upon a neighbour, which means the person who has a duty towards another individual who has a high likelihood of being affected or harmed by the former one's activities, must take reasonable precautions so that such accidents should be avoided in its flinch (Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932) AC 562). In this instance, the broad principle of duty of care in cases of carelessness was established. The verdict was not just restricted to the idea of negligence as an exemption to the duty of care. The first exception related to the petitioner's shared negligence, while the second exception dealt with the petitioner's wilful assumption of risk. According to the Civil Liability Act of 2002, the court has the exclusive authority to completely reduce the petitioner's damages.
The matter presented concerns the defender's negligence, for which he has offered a defence alleging contributory negligence on the part of the petitioner. The judiciary's comments in this case, which referenced to the Donoghue v. Stevenson decision, set a general standard and directive for the sections on the owner of buildings. Therefore, it was made plain that the owner of the property has a responsibility to the trespasser in order to prevent any potential harm.
Murphy J.'s interpretations of the higher court's decision state that the court recognised the defendant's negligence in not being aware of the trespasser's presence on his land, which was a factor in the decision. He noticed that the defenders were having an unfair advantage. As opposed to the burden of negligence, the defenders were previously generally simply entitled to the culpability of duty of care. In the Hackshaw v. Shaw case, the defender made no attempt to defend himself and instead fired indiscriminately at the trespasser without sounding any type of alert or warning, which was a grave threat to his safety. According to the law, the level of care is directly inversely correlated with the level of risk (Adelaide Chemical and Fertilizer Co. Ltd. v. Carlyle (1940) 534 CLR 64). Consequently, more caution is required while using explosives or other deadly weapons in an accident. Given that the defender in Hackshaw v. Shaw was utilising potentially lethal weapons, they were required to exercise a higher level of caution, which they did not do. The defendants were accused of negligence because of the risky activities they engaged in.
Murphy J. holds that the concept of contributory carelessness need to be maintained distinct from the issue of commission in the charge of a crime. Murphy stated in the Hackshaw v. Shaw case that the proofs and evidences presented in this case do not provide any evidence of contributory negligence on the part of the petitioner because riding in someone else's car poses no risk or chance of being shot by a pistol. This much serious risk is not anticipated to occur, even if the person has trespassed on the property.
According to the Australian legal code that is used in Victoria, the property owner has a responsibility of care to any person, regardless of their state. According to Wrongs Act of 1958 s. 14B(3), no other person shall suffer any harm or risk as a result of the owner of the premises' actions. The law also provides that an intruder must be able to foresee risk and potential harm even if the property owner exercised the required due diligence that would have been required in the event of carelessness. The obligation for protecting a trespasser from any kind of dangerous harm or damage is given to the property owner. Despite the trespasser's regular intrusion, the owner is nevertheless obligated to use reasonable caution around him.
Dean J. made the observation that the owner only had a minimal duty of care to a person who was at danger of foreseeable harm or damage in the Hackshaw v. Shaw case. According to the High Court's judgement, the lower court's judicial panel was unable to pinpoint the petitioner's instances of carelessness or the burden of proof (Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) § 5E). Both sides exclusively used their ignorance of this mistake as the foundation for their appeal.
Therefore, it is evident from this case that the property owner owes a liability and responsibility to the trespasser if the latter suffers harm or injury that is obvious or even remotely preventable by any form of negligence on the part of the property owner. Regardless of the manner of intrusion, the premise's owner is always required to exercise care for the trespasser.