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Roles v Nathan [1963] 1 WLR 1117  Court of Appeal

Two brothers, Donald and Joseph Roles were engaged by Mr Nathan as chimney sweeps to clean the flues in in a central heating system at Manchester Assembly Rooms. The flues had become dangerous due to carbon monoxide emissions. A heating engineer had warned them of the danger, however, the brothers told him they knew of the dangers and had been flue inspectors for many years. The engineer monitored the situation throughout the day and at one point ordered everybody out of the building due to the levels of carbon monoxide. The brothers ignored this advice and continued with their work. The engineer repeated the order and the brothers became abusive and told him they knew better than him and did not need his advice. The engineer forcibly removed them from the building. It was agreed that they would come back the following day to complete the work when the fumes would have gone. They were also told they should not do the work whilst the fires were lighted. However, the next day the brothers were found dead in the basement having returned the previous evening to complete the work when the fires were lit. Their widows brought an action under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957.


The defendant was not liable. The dangers were special risks ordinarily incident to their calling. The warnings issued were clear and the brothers would have been safe had they heeded the warnings.
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