Lack of record keeping impeded the City’s defence

Risk Matters - Spring 2023

A member engaged a contractor to conduct maintenance work on their premises. The lighting at the local government property where the contractor was working was defective or poorly designed such that after a set time, the lights would automatically turn off. Whilst the contractor was carrying out their work, the lights turned off and they fell leading to a significant injury.

As the entity in control of the premises, the City owed a ‘duty of care’ to the contractor to ensure they were not exposed to unreasonable risks. In this situation, the defective lighting design/system was deemed to be an unreasonable risk.

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LGIS findings

During the investigation, we found that the lighting was originally designed by another contractor and not by the member themselves. Unfortunately, the local government did not retain any records of the contractor involved and therefore, we had no ability to join them as a party or bring them into the court proceedings and assign all or if not part of the liability to them.


As a result of the defective lighting design/system on the member’s premises, the contractor suffered an injury and the member was liable to pay damages to the injured contractor. LGIS negotiated a settlement with the contractor involved.

Lessons from this case

This matter highlights the importance of ensuring proper records are created and retained regarding all work performed by members and any agreements with third party contractors for work to be done on its behalf. As the member failed to do this in this matter, it could not attribute or share liability for the incident and, therefore, was exposed to 100% of the liability for the contractor’s injuries and loss.

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