Anns v Merton [1978]

Local authority inspected and negligently approved
defective foundations.
Cracks appeared in building.
House of Lords held building owner could recover damages.
Lord Wilberforce justified the decision on basis cause
of action arose when building became an imminent danger to health and safety of
occupier, who could then recover cost of averting that danger.
[This seems a sensible rule – this rule, or a modified
form of it, became the law in Canada, Australia and NZ]
Lord Wilberforce:
1. Must ask whether sufficient relationship of
‘proximity or neighbourhood’ between plaintiff and defendant such that in
defendant’s reasonable contemplation carelessness on his part might cause
damage to plaintiff.
If so, prima facie duty of care arose.
2. Must then ask whether there were any considerations
which ought to negative / reduce / limit that duty.