Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Appellant) v Ryan and another (Respondents) (Trinidad and Tobago) [2017] UKPC 30

The respondent Claimants were diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and reactive airways disease respectively, which they attributed to emissions of hydrocarbon gases from land under the Appellant’s control. They sought compensation for their conditions by bringing actions in nuisance and negligence against the Defendant. The Defendant had accepted that there had been oil leaks, and had taken steps to prevent further leaks. However, even on the Claimants’ own medical evidence, there were many possible causes of both of their conditions, and a link with hydrocarbon emissions had not been established. The Court of Appeal in Trinidad and Tobago had taken a flexible approach to causation, applying the Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services line of case law: they held that on the basis of policy reasons the Court could and should draw inferences to bridge evidential gaps, and therefore held the Defendant liable on the basis that the emissions were a contributing factor to the Claimants’ conditions. The Privy Council held that this assumption was not supported by the evidence, and that there was no reason to depart from the usual ‘but for’ test of causation in this case. As a result, the appeal was allowed and the claims were dismissed.

November 28, 2017 В· Editorial Team В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases