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   Home      Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd v Shatwell
Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd v Shatwell [1965] AC 656 House of Lords

The claimants were brothers who were qualified shotfirers employed by the defendant. They were injured as a result of an explosion at the defendant's quarry caused by the brothers' negligence. They had insufficient wire to test a circuit to allow them to test from a shelter. Another worker had gone to fetch more wire but the brothers decided to go ahead and test with the shorter wire. Each brother claimed against the defendant based on their employer's vicarious liability for the negligence and breach of statutory duty of the other brother. The defendant raised the defence of volenti non fit injuria in that the brothers had full knowledge of the risk and were acting against express instructions. At trial the judge held that the defence of volenti could not apply where there was breach of a statutory duty. This was upheld in the Court of Appeal.


The appeal was allowed. The brothers had deliberately acted in defiance of the employer's express instructions in full knowledge of the risks. The workers were under the statutory duty not the employer. The employer had been instrumental in bringing in the statutory regulations and ensured all workers were aware of them. They had also previously dismissed a worker for flouting the regulations.
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