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Romeo v. Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory

Question :

The tort of negligence is an important principle which has evolved from the English case laws. it sets the duty to take care of the concerned authority in order to prevent any injury to the people due to any negligent act. The public authorities have a duty to take all necessary measures for the safety of the people who visit the concerned place under the commission of the public authority. the case of Romeo v. conservation commission of the northern-territory is the best example to figure out the extent to which public authorities can be held liable for any injury caused to the people.

  • What is the meaning of negligence?
  • Do all the liabilities of reasonable care and measures lie on the commission?
  • Whether the negligence is contributory?
Answer :


In the case, Romeo v. conservation commission of the northern-territory they've raised a difficult question about the liability of a common-law for public authority. This is an important case which gives reasonable areas about the liabilities which every person should fulfil. Negligence in context to tort is a breach made while the person has a duty to take care, As every prudent person will not do any breach and will also take care it is the sole duty of the person to work with proper care and caution. When any person even after knowing the problems and the danger still does not show any reasonable care and caution then that person will be liable for the danger or the harm suffered.

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In this case the appellant, Nadia Romeo who was under 16 year of age went to a Casuarina Coastal Reserve near Darwin with her friend to meet other friends. Appellant went their so many times before and she was well aware about the areas and the location of that reserve. She and her friend drank alcohol and were not in a proper conscious state at that time they were sitting on a Low log fences bordering in the car park area which was on a cliff top. They both fell down from the cliff and the appellant was heavily injured by this as she suffered paraplegic from that accident. Thus, the appellant filed a negligence case against the conservation of northern territory public authority to get the compensation for the harm caused to her with their negligence.

Issue Raised

  • Whether the conservation commission of the northern-territory is liable for negligence?


Appellant raised a case against commission on the ground that it was breach of duty to take care and the commission should install proper warning boards and the danger signs in the areas which can possibly cause major harm to persons. And their were no proper lightning installed in the reserve and that made it difficult for the visitors to assume and foresee the danger that can come.

On the other side Commission has said that it is the reasonable duty to take care from the appellant's side as it is quiet clear that sitting on the cliff is a danger and can cause an accident and as she was drunk so she was not been in her senses so it is not the liability of the commission .

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Decision by Trial court

It has been held by the court that, there was duty of the public authority that they have to provide a reasonable care and measures for the people. As it was noticed in the case Aiken v. kingborough Corp it has been held that it is the duty of the public authority to take safeguard care and so as to prevent injury to persons by taking optimum measures.

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Decision by High Court

CJ Brennan, held that it is not the sole duty of the authority to take care about the conservation and to take all the measures though it is important that public authority has to provide full protection and safeguards signboards, lights in their area but they makes it clear that it is the liability of the person who has been injured that should not do many negligence from their part.

CJ Toohey , held that respondent should take proper measures from their side to prevent the forseeability of risk, but it is not important to make the fences in the cliff as it was obvious for all the persons moving their that reserves will consider cliff and though everything can't be fenced.

Applying all the ideas and perspective it has been held that through the case of Aiken, it has not been clear that whether the danger occurred to the person can be avoided or is there is certain way through which that work may be made in distinct manner,So the appeal raised by the appellant is dismissed and court has not considered the matter of calculating the risk other then that has made the authority to also provide some protective measures so as to avoid such case in future.

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