Non-delegable duty is like vicarious liability in certain ways. The basis of the concept is that a duty of care held by an organisation cannot be devolved down or delegated to another party in spite of the other party taking certain responsibilities over the plaintiff’s safety. Common sense may dictate that the other party has assumed a duty of care by assuming control and other responsibilities, but the law takes a view that the duty of care held by the party normally responsible is not eliminated. It is established that a non-delegable duty exists in the following relationships:


  • Hospital and patient,

  • School authority and students,

  • Occupier and neighbour,

  • Employer and employee.


In each of these relationships the former party has a duty of care to the latter party which continues to exist in spite of there being other persons involved. To each relationship listed above the following parties have been argued at court to be responsible for the dependent party’s care, but found not to be liable due to non-delegable duty:...





Specific Points on Non-Delegable Duty

In Kondis v State Transport Authority[1] a railway worker was injured while doing manual rail maintenance work with a team under the supervision of a foreman. There was a crane hired to the employer by another company, operated by an employee of the hire company. The accident involved a metal rod being dropped on the worker’s back while he was under the crane. The employer argued that the worker was under the care of the supervisor, meaning the employer was not responsible...






[1] Kondis v State Transport Authority (1984) 154 CLR 672.

[2] Burnie Port Authority v General Jones Pty Ltd (1994) 179 CLR 520.

Tort Law - Negligence

Non-Delegable Duty of Care