Bryan v Maloney (1995) 182 CLR 609

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  • A builder built a house with inadequate footings.
  • The house was bought and sold a number of times.
  • Eventually an action was brought regarding the inadequate footings.


  • Was the builder liable to the secondary owners?
  • Was the builder liable for the pure economic loss?


  • Due to proximity of the relationship, a duty of care was owed.
  • A duty of care arises only where there exists a relationship of proximity.
  • So though there was no contract, there was a duty of care due to the proximity.
  • The builder assumes responsibility for building and the owner relies on the builder constructing the house properly. Any builder is aware that subsequent owners will assume the house is competently built.
  • The duty of care exists separately to the contract.
  • It is very foreseeable that inadequacy of footings will cause a loss. Therefore there is no distinction between first or subsequent owners.
  • The Court awarded the economic value of the loss of market value.
  • Note it is a residential dwelling and the significance of this investment.

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