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Thread: Overhead supply responsibility

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    Gold Member Sparks's Avatar
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    Overhead supply responsibility

    Good day to all at TFSA, I have a request for all the guys who normally work with the legal side of our industry.

    A child has been electrocuted and the local supplier has not commented on their resposibility.

    An overhead supply to a house was not supported correctly.

    The local authority was alerted to the fact that strange sounds were coming from their distribution box.

    They worked on it in such a manner that the cable was left to rest on a wire fence.

    Being the "windy city", the cable chafed through and electrified the fence.

    A child has unfortunately touched the fence with lethal consequences.

    If there is anyone who has the regulations at their fingertips and can provide me with the relevant regulations pertaining to the installation and maintenance of these supply cables, I, along with the family of the deceased child would appreciate to hear from you.

    I have requested the municipal by-laws from an "inside" contact, but would also like to obtain the National standard.

    I am specifically interested in the minimum height of an overhead supply to a domestic installation.

    Thank you
    Roland

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    Let me answer from a general 'responsibility' standpoint.

    There is a duty of care that must be exercised.
    Negligience, requires an act(or failure to act) that results in a loss.
    The negligience includes the concept that ýou should have been aware' that your behaviour may lead to harm/trouble. For instance, if you leave the electric power supply box unlocked, there is a reasonable expectation that harm could follow. In your case, when I put up a pole incorrectly, I might not forsee that a child will touch the wires, but a reasonable person will know that if teh pole is dodgy, the wiring may collapse, and that collapse may lead to harm, albeit, falling on a house or being exposed and leading to death.

    The report to the authority is hard to decide if tehy have been negligient. The question will be, depending on what was said, could they reasonably have expected that the fence itself became a eletric conductor, thus becoming a risk. The consequences then being clear.
    Had, for instance, the electric box blown up and killed someone, then the chance of success becomes greater, because clearly, an electric power supply that is making a noise, and comes to your attention, requires you see whats going on.

    Im inclined to believe that the person who erected the poles is probably in a bad place. Clearly, any reasonable person, and more so an éxpert', would know taht poorly erected supports could lead to collapse, which in turn creates a risk of harm.

    If the municipality gave the workmen the contract to eret the poles/wiring then, then they may be vicariously liable for what followed.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Gold Member Sparks's Avatar
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    Thank you for your response.

    The municipality electricians were the last people to work there, they did not use private contractors. Private contractors are in fact not allowed to work on the supply cable before the meter on the premises. However, I did find this in the municipal by-laws:
    Non-Liability of the Council

    18 The Council shall not be liable for any loss or damage direct or consequential suffered by a consumer or by the owner or occupier of any premises as a result of or arising from -

    (a) any work undertaken by the Council, the Engineer or an authorised official in terms or for the purpose of this by-law;


    Service Connection

    39 (1) The consumer shall bear the prescribed cost of the service connection including the service protective devices.
    (2) Notwithstanding the fact that the consumer has borne the cost of the work carried out by the Council, ownership of the service connection, laid or erected by the Council, shall vest in the Council which shall be responsible for the maintenance of such service connection. The consumer shall not be entitled to any compensation from the Council in respect of such service connection.

    External Portion of Service Connection

    41 (1) Where connection between the supply mains and a consumer's premises is made by means of conductors supported overhead, such conductors shall terminate at a point external to the building in which the service, meter and service protective devices will be installed. The connection between the supply point on the supply mains and the point of termination shall be known as the external portion of the service connection. The point of termination at the building of the external portion of the service connection shall be decided by the Engineer.

    (2) In the case of low or medium voltage overhead service connections, the consumer shall, at his own cost and expense, provide any special support for the service connection which may be necessary to ensure a distance of 3,5 meters between the service connection and the ground in the neighbourhood of the point of entry of the conductors into the building.

    They have been so careful to exempt themselves from liability yet maintain ownership that they themselves cannot issue a report as to who is responsible for the death of a child!
    In my book a cable lying on top of a fence is never acceptable. It was installed by them and maintained by them a while before the incident.

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    Surely there is something in common law that prevents them from shirking responsibility?

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    The disclaimer of non liability will not protect them. They still liable.
    Every government department, and every public and private contract, building etc have these disclaimers.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    These SCA judgments should help give a general understanding of how it works:

    http://www.justice.gov.za/sca/judgme...ca2012-044.pdf

    http://www.justice.gov.za/sca/judgme...ca2012-063.pdf
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Gold Member Sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sterne.law@gmail.com View Post
    These SCA judgments should help give a general understanding of how it works:

    http://www.justice.gov.za/sca/judgme...ca2012-044.pdf

    http://www.justice.gov.za/sca/judgme...ca2012-063.pdf

    Thank you very much for this response.

    This is exactly what I had hoped to get.

    There is no way that a 6year old child could have been expected to know that the cable resting on the fence might be chafed through.

    By the same token it was totally negligent and irresponsible of the artisan to have left a live cable, exposed to the wind, resting on a fence in a public open space.

    I appreciate your taking the time to respond.

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