Injury from electric shock


Limitation of actions – Negligence – Occupiers’ liability – Statutory duty – Contract – Causation – Turns on own facts


On 3 November 2015, the Plaintiff suffered an electric shock after touching the shower rose in the house he was occupying as a tenant.  The Defendant had purchased the property in December 2013 and the Plaintiff had entered into a lease agreement with the Defendant (for 30 months) starting 1 October 2015. 

When the Plaintiff first moved into the property there were two Residual Current Devices (RCD) on the property switchboard but the power socket that the hot-water system was connected to was not RCD protected. Additionally, at the time of the incident the electrical cable for the hot-water system was cable-tied to the hot-water pipe. The Plaintiff claimed the electrical shock was caused by the electrical cable deteriorating next to the hot-water pipe which allegedly caused the electric current to leak from the cable to the hot-water pipe. 

The Plaintiff claimed the Defendant breached certain regulations in the Electricity Regulations 1947 (WA) (Regulations) and failed to comply with a requirement in the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules 3000:2007 (the Wiring Rules), that electrical cabling was to be at least 25mm away from a hot-water system’s water pipe.   

The Plaintiff also claimed the Defendant was negligent by breaching the duty it owed to him by failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that persons living in the property would not suffer injury due to the state of the property.  Specifically, the Plaintiff alleged the Defendant breached its duty of care by:

  • failing to ensure the hot-water pipe and power cord supplying power to the hot-water system were not tied together;
  • failing to carry out adequate checks or inspections to detect dangers such as those which caused the incident; 
  • failing to ensure the power point where the hot-water system was plugged in had adequate RCD protection; and
  • failing to ensure adequate maintenance and repair was conducted on the property.

The Defendant denied all the causes of action.   



Plaintiff’s claim was dismissed. Prior DCJ, decision delivered 24 January 2024.

Plaintiff to pay the Defendant’s costs to be agreed or assessed.


In finding that the Defendant had not breached any statutory duties owed to the Plaintiff, reliance was placed on the wording of regulation 14(b) of the Regulations.  That regulation required two RCDs to be installed in a property prior to a residential tenancy being commenced. As the parties agreed that two RCDs were installed in the property (notwithstanding the fact that an RCD was not installed on the power point connected to the hot water supply), the property was compliant with the statutory duty created by regulation 14(b) of the Regulations.

Both parties agreed that, at the time of the incident, the property was in breach of Wiring Rule which required the electrical cabling was to be at least 25mm away from a hot-water system’s water pipe.  However, Judge Prior noted that a breach of a clause or provision in the Wiring Rules cannot be a breach of a statutory duty as the Wiring Rules are not a ‘creature of statute’. Accordingly, there was no statutory duty imposed on the Defendant to comply with the Wiring Rules and the Plaintiff’s claim for breach of statutory duty failed.

Judge Prior held that there is no ‘general obligation’ imposed on a landlord to arrange an electrical safety inspection or obtain a certificate every time a property is leased.  In finding that the Defendant had not breached its common law duty of care to the Plaintiff, Judge Prior noted the following:

  • there was no evidence to support that it was routine practice for residential property owners to arrange for independent inspections of their properties to ensure they were safe other than by property agents preparing property condition reports at the commencement of a lease;
  • there was no evidence that the Defendant had any knowledge of any damage to the electrical cable from the hot water system prior to the incident; and
  • eyewitness accounts of their observations of the deteriorated electrical cable did not suggest it would be easy for a person to observe or discover.

Given the above, Judge Prior held that there was no aspect of the exterior of the property which ought reasonably to have suggested to the Defendant that it would have been appropriate to obtain an electrical inspection or undertake any works on the hot water system.  There was no apparent danger of which the Defendant should have been reasonably expected to be aware. 

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