(The Wagon Mound, No. 1)  UKPC 1
FACTS: Petitioner’s oil travelled into the ocean. The spillage of oil then travelled to Respondents boat. Although it congealed, the Respondents’ work came into contact with the oil. As consequence, their boat caught on fire.
ISSUE: Whether a reasonable person would find Petitioner negligent and responsible for the damages caused by the spillage to which resulted in a fire.
RULE: Negligence requires a showing that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached duty of care, plaintiff was injured, and defendant’s negligence resulted in plaintiff’s injuries. Under the reasonable foreseeability doctrine, a defendant is only liable for injuries which are reasonably foreseeable.
ANALYSIS: The Court analyzed the holding in In re Polemis, which asserts a defendant is responsible for the injury whether reasonably foreseeable or not. In the present case, the Court found that an actor cannot be held liable for negligence for injuries which are not direct. Reasonable foreseeability cannot be rejected because Petitioner is judged by what a reasonable person ought to foresee. Indeed, this corresponds with the direct consequence test.
CONCLUSION: Although the fire was a proximate cause of Petitioner’s oil spillage, the Respondent cannot recover because the accident was not reasonably foreseeable. The Court overturned the holding in Polemis based on this rationale.