The Wagon Mound (No.1) [1961]

Privy Council disapproved of Re Polemis.
Charterers of Wagon
carelessly spilt fuel oil onto water when fuelling in harbour.
Spread led to MD Limited’s wharf, where welding was in
After consultation with charterers of Wagon Mound, MD Limited’s manager allowed
welding to continue.
Oil later caught fire, causing extensive damage to MD Limited’s
Two findings of fact important:
(i) Unforeseeable oil would catch fire.
(ii) Foreseeable that the oil would damage MD Limited’s
Viscount Simonds: ‘It is the foresight of
the reasonable man which alone can determine responsibility. The Polemis rule, by substituting “direct”
for “reasonably foreseeable” consequence leads to a conclusion equally
illogical and unjust’.
[The Wagon Mound
represents English law.
In essence, in negligence, foreseeability
is the criterion not only for the existence of a duty of care but also for
remoteness of damage]