Perma-Soil UK Ltd v Williams and Flintshire CC  EWHC 1087 (QB) (QBD): PS manufactured and supplied a soil stabiliser that had been approved by the Council for use in highway works in the county. PS claimed damages for misfeasance in public office against W, the council's Senior Street Works Engineer, and the council as vicariously liable, relating to the Council's use of a competitor's soil stabiliser in a major infrastructure project. PS argued that W had committed misfeasance in public office, either from targeted malice towards PS or in the hope of personal gain. It argued that he had become hostile to PS after he had offered to buy the company but been rebuffed, and had thereafter helped the contractor's directors set up the rival, encouraging his friend to work for it. It alleged that he had been instrumental in the approval of the rival's product and had intended the diversion of business from the company to the rival.
The court held, dismissing the claim, that W's advice or information as to the use of the competitor's soil stabiliser was well within the scope of his functions as a public officer and was an exercise of a public power for the purposes of the tort of misfeasance in public office. However, he was not motivated by any intention to injure PS and so the allegation of targeted malice was not established. PS had failed to establish that W's conduct was unlawful in that it was for the purpose of personal gain, that he knew that it was unlawful in that respect, and that he knew that the unlawful conduct was likely to cause injury to PS. Furthermore, the alleged unlawfulness of W's conduct did not cause any loss to PS. It could be assumed that the use of the rival soil stabiliser in place of PS's product caused some loss but as there was no demonstrated reason why the contractor should not have been free to use the rival product, any such loss was not caused by misfeasance on W's part. (10 May 2016)
London v Southampton City Council (Unreported, QBD): the court has held that the Council had breached its duty of care to a 65-year-old man with Parkinson’s, heart problems and dementia by leaving him momentarily unsupervised as he waited to board a minibus, causing him to fall. On the balance of probabilities, that accident caused the man ultimately to die from deep vein thrombosis 10 weeks later. (20 May 2016)
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