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Salmon v Seafarer Restaurants – Summary

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Salmon v Seafarer Restaurants Ltd [1983] 1 WLR 1264

Tort law – Negligence – Duty of care

Facts

The plaintiff was a fireman who had attended to a fire that had broken out at the defendant’s fish and chip shop. This has been caused by the defendant failing to extinguish a light under a chip fryer before closing the shop for the day. Whilst fighting the fire, the plaintiff was instructed to climb a ladder in order to access the second floor. As he did so, an explosion occurred which caused the plaintiff to fall from the ladder. This caused injury to the plaintiff fireman. As a result of this, the plaintiff brought an action for personal injuries on the basis that they were caused by the negligence of the defendant.

Issue

An important issue for the court to establish in this case was whether the owner of the fish and chip shop had created a dangerous situation in which it might cause him to owe the fireman a duty of care in the circumstances. If this was the case, then the court was also charged with the task of deciding whether the occupier of the shop had breached this duty of care.

Held

The court held that an occupier’s liability extended to the ordinary risks and dangers inherent in the course of the fireman’s employment. However, where an occupier’s negligence creates a situation where a special or exceptional risk arises, they would be liable for the injuries caused. On this basis, the court found the defendant chip shop to be liable for the damage caused to the fireman. 

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