The purpose of this paper is to consider decisions of the courts of three jurisdictions: Ireland; England and Wales; and Australia, in relation to recovery of economic loss in negligence for building defects and to identify the extent to which the legal environment of each jurisdiction has informed the approach of the courts to the issue.
The approach taken for this purpose is to review the extent of legislative intervention in each jurisdiction to provide measures of protection for home buyers, and whether that intervention has limited the scope of what may be recovered in negligence for defects.
The findings of the research indicate that the retreat from recovery for defects, led by the courts of England and Wales through a series of cases in the 1980s and 1990s, may be regarded in part as a product of their environment, and that legislative intervention in the area of remedies acted as a limitation on the scope of the duties that the courts were prepared to impose.
Although the issue of recovery for building defects in negligence has been covered extensively in the literature and jurisprudence, the cross-referencing of the common law position with the legislative context in the jurisdictions considered provides insights into the approaches of courts and why the position of the courts of England and Wales may not transpose comfortably to other jurisdictions.
The author wishes to acknowledge the postgraduate scholarship of the Irish Research Council which is funding her PhD research.
This article is based on a paper delivered to the Construction Bar Association of Ireland Annual Conference 2016. The author is grateful to Jonathan Fitzgerald, BL, and to Mark Sanfey, SC, for their helpful comments on an early draft.
Ní Fhloinn, D. (2017), "Liability in negligence for building defects in Ireland, England and Australia: Where statute speaks, must common law be silent?", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 178-192. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLBE-06-2017-0019Download as .RIS
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