Disclaimer: This work was produced by one of our expert legal writers, as a learning aid to help law students with their studies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of LawTeacher.net. Any information contained in this case summary does not constitute legal advice and should be treated as educational content only.

Overseas Tankship v Morts Dock - 1961

306 words (1 pages) Case Summary

5th Oct 2021 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): Australian Law

Legal Case Summary

Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock & Engineering Co (The Wagon Mound) [1961] AC 388

Tort law – Remoteness Rule – Causation – Negligence – Reasonably Foreseeable – Foreseeability – Contributory Negligence – Duty of Care - The Wagon Mound Case


The crew members of the Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd were working on a ship, when they failed to turn off one of the furnace taps. This caused oil to leak from the ship into the Sydney Harbour. Morts Dock & Engineering Co (The Wagon Mound) owned the wharf, which they used to perform repairs on other ships. The leaking oil on the water surface drifted to the site where Morts were welding metal. A supervisor enquired to find out whether the oil was flammable, which he was assured that it was not. However, a spark from welding and mixed with debris, caught fire from the spilt oil and this caused a fire to spread rapidly. This caused significant damage to Mort’s wharf.


The issue in this case was whether the crew could be liable for the damage to the wharf that was caused by the fire. In addition, would this also be the case even if it was unforeseeable, but a result of a negligent act.


The court held that Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd could not be held liable to pay compensation for the damage to the wharf. This case disapproved the direct consequence test in Re Polemis and established the test of remoteness of damage. This asks whether the damage would be reasonably foreseeable. In this case, the damage caused to the wharf by the fire and the furnace oil being set alight could not be foreseen by a reasonable person.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

Jurisdictions / Tags

Content relating to: "Australian Law"

This selection of academic papers covers the legal system of Australia and contains, essays, dissertations and case summaries which may be of interest to Australian law students or those studying Australian laws from outside Australia.

Related Articles