Law of Torts - Res Ipsa Loquitur

This maxim is Rule of Evidence applicable in action under Negligence. It is known as ‘The Thing Speaks For Itself’. This rule is originated from the case of Byrne v Boadle (1863) a barrel of flour falls on P from the window of D’s shop. Barron Pollock dictum ‘res ipsa loquitur’.

The Requirement

Under the Control/Management of Defendant or His Servant

The thing which causes the damage must be under control/management of D or his servants.

Saillant v Smith - - Rider fell from galloping horse. P not liable – not under P’s control

Scott v London & St Kathering Docks - - sugar falling on P from an overhead crane. It is under D’s control.

Chong Sow Ying & Anor v Official Administrator - - a motor vehicle driven by D which swerves to the wrong side of the road. It is under D’s control.

Felda v Mariam & Ors - - Kongsi House collapsed and killed one of the sub con worker. The contractor sub con was not known to D. It was held that Felda liable because under D’s control. The work benefited Felda.

Res Ipsa Loquitor Medical Negligence

The maxim frequently used in medical negligence. Sometime P succeed but sometime due to matter of policy which may lead to ‘floodgate’ Court disallowed.

Roe v Minister of Health - - In 1947 the container which contain the drug were contaminated through invisible cracks. This risk was unknown till 1951. Caused P paralyzes. It was held that D was not liable. Medical not yet advanced.

Wong Choon Mei & Anor v Dr. Kuldeep Singh - - Rib fractured unnoticed by doctor which cause internal bleeding. P died. It was held that D because necessary action has been taken.

In The Ordinary Loquitor and Medical Negligence

It means that in ordinary course of business it does not happen. So it happens due to negligence.

Byrne v Boadle - - That a barrel of flour could not fall on P in the ordinary course of business.

Stafford v Conti Commodity Services Ltd - - D brokers for future market that gives advice to P but P invested on his own decision. D is not liable because in future market investment, in as much as ordinary course of thins losses occurs.

Absence Of Explanation or Inadequate Explanation
D must explain as to why the event happened. Here this rule had shifted the burden of proof on defendant.

Yow Fook v Woon Kim Tew - - Sketch plan/photograph and D’s admission that he killed a cyclist but he failed to explain how it happened. D liable.

MA Clyde v Wong Ah Mei & Anor - - D or his passenger could not give reasonable explanation how they killed a cyclist. D liable.

Tan Geok Hue v Lim Swee Peng - - Inadequate explanation by D. D says tyre blow out and skidded but court found the burst was after the accident. D was held liable.

Lim Kim Chai & Anot v Foo See Fatt - - D explain that cough and influenza caused D had a momentary blackout. But it was due to D fall asleep. D was held liable.

* D can sometimes rely on latent defect not discoverable after exercising reasonable care.

If Cause Of Accident Known Or Can Be Explained Then The Maxim Has No Application

Bong Miew v Patrick Ting - - Deceased enlightened quickly from the bus and went in front of the bus and cross the road . D’s car knocked he down. It was held that deceased was wholly responsible. Maxim not applicable.

Joginder Kaur & Anor v Malayan Banking - - Deceased (cyclist) was held liable contributory negligence crossing the road at night in the path on oncoming vehicle.
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