Robert Ude V. Bonjut (1954)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Tort—Negligence presumable from accident—Plaintiff suffering injury—Where defendant is the party knowing the cause—Onus on defendant to show he was not liable.
The defendant, who occupied the floor above the plaintiffs shop and store, went away leaving his servants behind and the premises in the charge of a friend.
Water seeped through from the floor above; the tap was not defective, but someone had let it run and cause an overflow. The plaintiff sued for damage to his goods, but the trial Judge was of the view that he had the duty to show it had been due to the fault of one of the defendant’s servants in the course of employment. The plaintiff appealed.
The plaintiff had no means but the defendant had the means of telling how the accident had been caused, and the onus was therefore on the defendant to prove facts inconsistent with liability, there being a presumption in the circumstances that the accident had been caused by negligence on the part of someone left by him in occupation for which he was responsible.