This decision was handed down in 2011 by Dalton J and has not yet been reported. Although the decision arises out of somewhat unique circumstances, the principles discussed have a wider application and, in line with the Editors’ policy of constantly reviewing decisions of the Court which have not yet been reported, it is considered that it is appropriate to now report the decision.
In this case a child (aged 17 years) was injured whilst driving a car on a country property. The child, although unlicensed, was driving the car on dirt roads with the permission of the owner of the car and of the property. The driver was described as a “competent learner driver”. The issue was whether or not the owner of the property should have forbidden the child to drive the car at all? It was held that in determining whether or not the defendant had acted reasonably it had to be kept in mind that it was common practice in the country for children to drive motor vehicles on dirt roads on properties well before they were old enough to obtain a licence. Moreover, the child had been given permission by her parents to drive the car and they also gave her an appropriate warning. That permission and warning from the parents of the child militated against the notion that the defendant had breached any duty to the child. The defendant was entitled to assume that, as the parents who had a better knowledge of the attributes of their child, permitted her undertaking the activity he was not acting unreasonably in allowing the child to drive the car.