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Independent Broadcasting Authority v EMI Electronics (1980) 14 Build LR 1

Contract - Negligence - Failure to consider risks - misstatement

Facts:

BICC designed a television mast for the predecessors of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). After experiencing problems with a similar mast, IBA sought assurance from BICC that the mast met the specifications and would not break. They suggested conducting tests, but BICC insisted that the mast would be fine and no tests were needed. Consequently, no tests were undertaken and the building of the mast went ahead as planned. BICC contracted EMI to build the mast. The mast was built and then collapsed three years later, the problem being asymmetrical icing stays. IBA brought a claim in negligence against EMI and BICC.

Issues:

Whether EMI owed a contractual duty to IBA by assuming design liability from BICC in building the faulty mast. Whether BICC could also be held liable for the negligent build.

Held:

BICC was found to be negligent in the design of the mast. Their assurance to IBA also amounted to misstatement (which they had written in a letter before the mask was built). However, BICC did not build the mast and had no contract for the build, therefore they could not be found negligent for damages in relation to the build. Their negligence did extend to the fact that they had failed to identify the risk of having asymmetrical icing stays but they could only be liable in tort. On proper construction of the contract, EMI were liable for the negligent build.


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