Modbury Triangle Shopping Centre Pty Ltd v Anzil [2000] HCA 61 | 23 November 2000

ON 23 NOVEMBER 2000, the High Court of Australia delivered Modbury Triangle Shopping Centre Pty Ltd v Anzil [2000] HCA 61; 205 CLR 254; 176 ALR 411; 75 ALJR 164 (23 November 2000).


The High Court held that the owner/occupier of a shopping centre did not breach its duty of care to an employee of a tenant who was attacked in the unlit shopping centre car park.

Per Gleeson CJ:

“That an occupier of land owes a duty of care to a person lawfully upon the land is not in doubt. It is clear that the appellant owed the first respondent a duty in relation to the physical state and condition of the car park. The point of debate concerns whether the appellant owed a duty of a kind relevant to the harm which befell the first respondent. That was variously described in argument as a question concerning the nature, or scope, or measure of the duty. The nature of the harm suffered was physical injury inflicted by a third party over whose actions the appellant had no control. Thus, any relevant duty must have been a duty related to the security of the first respondent. It must have been a duty, as occupier of land, to take reasonable care to protect people in the position of the first respondent from conduct, including criminal conduct, of third parties.” at [17]

“The most that can be said of the present case is that the risk of harm of the kind suffered by the first respondent was foreseeable in the sense that it was real and not far-fetched. The existence of such a risk is not sufficient to impose upon an occupier of land a duty to take reasonable care to prevent harm, to somebody lawfully upon the land, from the criminal behaviour of a third party who comes onto the land. To impose such a burden upon occupiers of land, in the absence of contract or some special relationship …, would be contrary to principle; a principle which is based upon considerations of practicality and fairness. The principle cannot be negated by listing all the particular facts of the case and applying to the sum of them the question-begging characterisation that they are special. … Most of the facts said to make the case special are, upon analysis, no more than evidence that the risk of harm to the first respondent was foreseeable.” [at 35]


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