A correspondent in commenting on legal liability in the April 1977 column referred to
a case then being considered in the House of Lords. It was the case of Anns and others v Merton London Borough Council. Judgement has now been given which seems likely to re-open the flood gates of litigation to which he referred. Briefly the decision is that a Council has a duty to inspect a site (the issue was about damage caused by settlement due to poor foundations); if the Council fails to do so, or if the inspection is negligent, the Council has a liability if something goes wrong. Further, the plaintiff, has six years from the time the damage appeared in which to make his case and the plaintiff can be the present owner of the damaged property and not the original purchaser. Since this is a ruling by the highest court of the land it is a precedent which only legislation by Parliament can change.