Anns v Merton London Borough Council

Anns V Merton London Borough Council

Anns v Merton London Borough Council

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Anns v Merton London Borough Council A.C. 728 was decided in the House of Lords. It established a broad test for determining the existence of a duty of care in the tort of negligence called the Anns test or sometimes retronymically the two-stage test.

Facts and background

In 1962 the local council of Merton approved building plans for the erection of a block of maisonettes. The approved plans showed the base wall and concrete foundations of the block to be ‘three feet or deeper to the approval of local authority ’. The notice of approval said that the bylaws of the council required that notice should be given to the council both at the commencement of the work and when the foundations were ready to be covered by the rest of the building work. The council had the power to inspect the foundations and require any corrections necessary to bring the work into conformity with the bylaws, but was not under an obligation to do so.

The block of maisonettes was finished in 1962. The builder (who was also the owner) granted 999 year leases for the maisonettes, the last conveyance taking place in 1965. In 1970 structural movements occurred resulting in failure of the building comprising cracks in the wall, sloping of the floors and other defects. In 1972 the plaintiffs who were lessees of the maisonettes issued writs against the builder and the council.

The plaintiffs claimed that the damage was a consequence of the block having been built on inadequate foundations, there being...
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