Imperial Chemical Industries v Shatwell (1964)

Defence of consent

Areas of applicable law: Tort law – General defences – Volenti non fit injuria:

Main arguments in this case: A man who willingly takes risk cannot hold anyone for liability of harm.

The fact of the case: The claimants, two brothers named James and George Shatwell, were qualified shot firers and were working in a quarry. On a certain day they had to test the electric wiring for explosive charges and though they were aware of the company’s mandatory policy that such practices were only allowed from a shelter, they carried out the explosion by using a short length wire and were injured as a consequence.

One of the brothers sued the company on the basis that the company was vicariously liable for the action of his brother. His claim failed as the House of Lords held that the claimant knew of the risk and danger, and had completely ignored the safety rules put in place by the company, and had continued to take the risk. Therefore he was equally liable and had deliberately taken the risk of injury and was not entitled to any claim under vicarious liability.

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