I now turn briefly to the decided cases. The first reference to the approach I have taken to determining whether a duty is owed by a municipal building inspector to a landowner who initiates a work, as opposed to a stranger who is injured by a defect in the work, or as opposed to a later purchaser, was in Lord Wilberforce's allusion, in Anns v. Merton at p. 758, under the heading "To whom the duty is owed", to the fact that the duty of care is not owed to "a negligent building owner, the source of his own loss". But the contributory negligence legislation is in force in England as well as in Canada. Under that legislation it could not be said that a duty is owed to a careful building owner but not to a careless one. The proper application of Lord Wilberforce's dictum must surely be that no duty at all is owed to building owners who are in a position to engage competent contractors. If they do not do so, and suffer loss as a result, they cannot pass that loss on to the municipality, even if a municipal officer could be said to have contributed to the loss by carrying out a public law duty carelessly. The reason is that no private law duty is owed to the owner who could have protected himself.
Get a full legal research memo!
The above passage should not be considered legal advice. Reliable answers to complex legal questions require comprehensive research memos. To learn more visit www.alexsei.com.