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Assessment of damages for property damage

By Amanda P. Stickley


In Gagner Pty t/as Indochine Café v Canturi Corporation Pty Ltd (2009) 262 ALR 691, the assessment of damages awarded for the rectification work to the premises of the respondent was in issue. The appellant operated a restaurant above the respondent’s jewellery store in Sydney. When the kitchen of the restaurant flooded, water escaped causing damage to the jewellery store’s fit-out. The escape of the water was held to be due to the negligence of persons for whom the appellant was vicariously liable.\ud The trial judge awarded damages, measured by the amount required to return the premises as close as was possible to the condition prior to the flood damage as well as an allowance for interruption to the business for 10 days. The 10 day allowance reflected the number of days the store would have been closed for if it was to be returned to its previous condition.\ud The evidence was that the flooding has only affected approximately 10% of the floor area of the store. However, instead of having work carried out to bring the premises back to its condition as before the water damage, the respondent closed the business for 29 working days for a complete internal refurbishment – at a cost substantially more than simple rectification. \ud On appeal it was argued that the trial judge had assessed the damages incorrectly as by undertaking a complete refurbishment had the effect that the respondent did not suffer any loss as a consequence of the negligence in relation to the fit-out. It was asserted that the claim for damages was in the circumstances a claim for betterment. It was also argued that the damages should not include a component for GST. \ud Campbell JA gave reasons, with Macfarlan JA and Sackville AJA agreeing.\u

Topics: 180126 Tort Law, Damages, Property
Publisher: Thomson Reuters (Australia/NZ)
Year: 2010
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