On 1 January 2007, Megabucks Ltd cleared a large area of land looking over a bay in which commercial prawn trawling was undertaken. The local council approved the development. Megabucks Ltd cleared trees and levelled the area, stockpiling all the debris (trees, sand and soil) at the edge of the land, adjacent to the bay. The approved plans said nothing about the removal of debris. However, under the relevant statutory powers the council could have made the removal of debris a condition.
The council’s officer had inspected the site and carelessly failed to notice the dangerous size of the pile. Had he done so the council could have ordered its removal under another statutory power.
About a month after the inspection, the pile of debris had become considerably larger and its sheer weight caused it to collapse. Tonnes of debris fell into the bay. The commercial prawn trawlers, who operated under licences issued by the council, sustained damage to their fishing gear while trawling the next day, and were unable to fish in the bay for 12 months.
(a) What action or actions in tort may the commercial prawn trawlers claim against Megabucks Ltd?
(b) What action or actions in tort may the commercial prawn trawlers claim against the council?
(c) What damages would the commercial prawn trawlers be entitled to from either the Council or Megabucks Ltd? Would either the Council or Megabucks have a defence?
1. Maximum marks available: 20 marks.
2. You should use the IRAC method to answer the question, and refer to the prescribed textbook, other academic materials, and relevant Acts and cases in your answer.
3. Maximum word length is 2000 words.