On 10 December 2015 the High Court refused the plaintiff
special leave to appeal the decision of NSW Court of Appeal in
Fabre v Lui*. The judgment obtained by Hunt & Hunt for
the occupier at first instance and upheld in the NSW Court of
Appeal stands. Click
HERE to view our article on the decision of the Court of
The High Court elected not to disturb the findings of the Court
of Appeal, commenting that there was "no need to doubt the
conclusion of the Court of Appeal" whose findings related to
interpretation of breach of duty and s.5B of the Civil
Liability Act 2002 (NSW).
The appeal related to the extent of the duty owed by domestic
occupiers to ensure that repairs would be properly carried out.
Depending upon the nature of the repairs, it is clear that there is
no need for a domestic occupier to exhaustively investigate the
expertise of tradespeople hired.
For example, as was the case here, where a kitchen rangehood is
simply fitted and plugged in, it was sufficient for the occupier to
rely upon a tradesperson who advertised locally, attended with the
new rangehood and fitted it. Even though that fitting was
negligent, that related to the responsibility of the tradesperson,
not the occupier.
Of factual relevance in Fabre v Lui, the defective
fitting was not easily identified, the rangehood stayed in place
for 3 years and there was no evidence of defect that could be
detected on reasonable inspection during that time.
That the High Court has refused to disturb the findings of the
Court of Appeal provides much needed certainty to domestic
occupiers and their insurers.
*CHRISTINE FABRE v BONNY LAI CHUN LUI  HCASL
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