News » Brandley v Deane Supreme Court Decision 2017-11-15

In an area of much needed reform, the Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against the Court of Appeal decision in Brandley & Anor v Deane & Anor [2016] IECA 54 and remitted the case back to the High Court.

The Court of Appeal decision in Brandley had introduced some uncertainty as to the application of the well established principles from Irish Equine Foundation Limited v Robinson [1999] IR 442.

In Irish Equine Geoghegan J held that, in relation to a claim in negligence, if the roof was defectively designed, as was claimed by the plaintiff, then it was the case that this defective design would have been manifest at the time of design to any competent designer that examined the design. Therefore, the defective design was manifest prior to 1986 and so the action was barred.

“…if experts with the same qualifications as these Defendants had been retained just after the roof was constructed to inspect and report and, assuming that the Plaintiff's allegations are correct, they could and would have reported that the roof was defectively designed. I am satisfied, therefore that in so far as this action is founded on negligence in the design of the roof, it is clearly stature barred.”

Exactly when damage was manifest without a discoverability reference remained an area of uncertainty for practitioners.

The Court of Appeal in Brandley considered defectively installed foundations (in places no foundations) and when the damage was manifest, when they were installed, or when damage occurred, Ryan J ruling:

“It is clear that negligence by itself without the accompaniment of damage or loss is not actionable.”

Unfortunately, the Court of Appeal did not cite Irish Equine and so it was difficult to state with any certainty whether or not the law had changed in any substantial manner. However, it certainly appears to the author that this differs from the Irish Equine test.

The Supreme Court has now upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal and stated that the test is when the damage 'becomes manifest'. As to when the damage 'becomes manifest', does this differ from when the damage 'is manifest', a detailed analysis of the written judgement may provide that clarity ... more to follow

E-mail Facebook Google Plus LinkedIn