U.A.C. (NIG.) LIMITED (APPELLANTS)
JOSEPH MORBA OREKYEN (RESPONDENT)
(1961) All N.L.R. 748
Division: High Court of Lagos
Date of Judgment: 23rd October, 1961
Case Number: Appeal No. LD/49A/61
Before: De Lestang, C. J.
Appeal from Magistrates' Court under Workmen's Compensation Ordinance.
The respondent was an employee of the appellants. He was placed in charge of a petrol station which the appellants operated. One morning, while the respondent was checking the overnight sales in the sales room of the petrol station, a stranger walked in and asked for change for a one pound note. One of the petrol attendants, working under the respondent's supervision, informed the stranger that there was no change. The stranger persisted in his request and then threatened, and attempted to fight, the attendant. The respondent intervened and took up a position between them, in order to prevent a fight. The stranger struck him in the eye and, as a result, he lost the sight of that eye. The respondent successfully claimed compensation from the appellants in the magistrate's court under the Workmen's Compensation Ordinance. The appellants appealed, alleging that the injury sustained by the respondents did not arise out of the respondent's employment.
(1) Where an employee is put in charge of an office by his employer, it is the duty of the employee to maintain order in that office, and to protect his subordinate co-employees from being molested by a stranger; and an injury sustained by the employee in the execution of that duty is an injury arising out of his employment.
Cases referred to:-
Mitchinson v. Day Brothers, (1913) 1 K.B. 603; 82 L.J.K.B. 421; 108 L.T. 193; 29 T.L.R. 267; 57 Sol. Jo. 300.
Thom (or Simpson) v. Sinclair, (1917) A.C. 127; 86 L.J.P.C. 102; 116 L.T. 609; 33 T.L.R. 247; 61 Sol. Jo. 350; (1916-17) All E.R. Rep. 415.
Davidson (Charles R.) & Co. v. M'Robb or Officer, (1918) A.C. 304: 87 L.J.P.C. 58; 118 L.T. 451; 34 T.L.R.213; 62 Sol. Jo. 347.
APPEAL from magistrate's court.
Sofola for the Appellants.
Isikalu for the Respondent.
De Lestang, C.J.:-The respondent was employed by the appellants and placed in charge of a petrol station which they operated. One morning, while the respondent was checking the overnight sales in the sales room of the petrol station, a stranger entered the sales room to ask for change for a £1 note. One of the attendants at the petrol station working under the respondent told him that there was no change but he persisted and threatened or attempted to fight the attendant. Whereupon the respondent intervened and took a position between them in order to prevent a fight. The stranger hit him in the eye and as a result he lost the sight of that eye. He successfully claimed compensation from his employers. The employers appeal on the sole ground that the injury did not arise out of the respondent's employment.
Learned Counsel for the employers relied strongly on the case of Mitchinson v. Day Brothers, (1913) 1 K.B. 603. In that case, the deceased was a carter in charge of a horse and van belonging to his employers. A drunken man, having stopped near the horse's head, the deceased, who was standing near the horse, warned him to come away lest the horse should hurt him; whereupon he struck the deceased two blows on the head, causing injuries from which he died. It was held that the risk of assault was not incidental to, and the accident did not arise out of, the deceased's employment and compensation was not payable.
The only comment I desire to make is that that case was doubted in Thom (or Simpson) v. Sinclair, (1917) A.C. 127, and that consequently it is dangerous to rely on it. Moreover, the facts in that case are clearly distinguishable from those in the present case.
The meaning of the words "arising out of the employment" has been judicially examined on numerous occasions in the English Courts, and the principle to be derived from those decisions is that for an accident to arise out of the employment there must be some casual relation between the accident and the employment other than the mere coincidence of the accident with the currency of the employment. So, in Davidson (Charles R.) & Co. v. M'Robb or Officer, (1918) A.C. 304, Lord Finlay defined the expression "arising out of the employment" as "arising out of the work which the man is employed to do and what is incident to it-in other words, out of his service." Applying that principle to the facts of this case, it seems to me beyond argument that it was the duty of the respondent to maintain order at the petrol station, and to protect his subordinate co-employee from being molested by a stranger. There was thus a clear relation between the accident and his work, and the learned Chief Magistrate was, in my view, perfectly right in holding that the accident arose out of the respondent's employment.
The appeal is dismissed with costs assessed at seven guineas.