Murphy v Brentwood DC [1991]

Murphy v Brentwood District Council [1991] UKHL 2, [1991] 1 AC 398 was a judicial decision of the House of Lords in relation to recovery for pure economic loss in tort. The court overruled the decision Anns v Merton London Borough Council with respect to duty of care in English law.

Murphy v Brentwood District Council is a leading case in the field of tort law, specifically in relation to the tort of negligence. In this case, the House of Lords considered whether a local authority could be held liable in negligence for a defect in a building that caused damage to a property owner.

The case arose out of the construction of a house by a builder on land in the Brentwood District Council. The house was built on a foundation that was defective, causing the house to subside and resulting in damage to the property. The property owner, Mr Murphy, sued the Council for negligence, arguing that it had failed to ensure that the builder had constructed the house in accordance with the relevant building regulations.

The House of Lords held that the Council could not be held liable for the damage caused to Mr Murphy's property because the loss he suffered was neither material nor physical but purely economic. The Court reasoned that allowing recovery for pure economic loss in such circumstances would result in an unacceptably wide liability which would effectively amount to judicial legislation introducing product liability and transmissible warranties for defective buildings.

This decision has been criticised by some legal scholars for its narrow approach to the issue of duty of care in negligence. However, it remains an important case in the development of tort law, particularly in relation to the concept of duty of care.
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