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Law of torts

 

Back ground and context

You are a trainee with a mid-sized firm of solicitors (‘Taylors Lawyers’)-

Memo from GB Taylor

To Trainee

Background facts

Lorraine Smith (LS) was until 9 months ago a senior marine biologist in the maritime
research division of the CSIRO-

Whilst an employee of CSIRO, LS had been heavily involved in the Victorian South
Coast Whale conservation program (‘Whale program’)-

Six months ago LS resigned from the CSIRO and became a consultant working from
her home in Warrnambool.

LS has a 4 wheel dive which has LS Marine Consultancy badges on the vehicle for
promotional puposes-

LS has continued to do quite a bit of work with CSIRO- She would estimate three
days a week on average have been taken up with her continuing working on the
Whale program.

LS writes reports for the senior supervisor (Dr Renae Slater) under whom she worked
whilst at the CSIRO- Dr Slater directs LS as to where she works when she is
performing tasks for the CSIRO-

LS has her own lap-top- The CSIRO pay her an houly rate; they do not provide any
superannuation or other employee benefits- She provides her own clothes but a lot of

 

her work involves scuba diving, and CSIRO provide this equipment for her.

The incident

Last month LS was diving about a kilometre off Warrnambool with a team of three
others- They were in about 15 metres of water. She was with CSIRO employees and
they were in a CSIRO boat-

From the boat they were in radio contact with Dr Slater, who is based in Warrnambool-
BLB1115 Torts 17S1 Page l 13

Whilst descending to about thirty feet to check on a pod of Southern Wright whales,
LS experienced troubles with her breathing- She had to ascend to the boat quicker
than was ideal, and as a result suffered a mild form of the ‘bends”- She needed to be
hospitalized over the weekend and her specialist has advised her that she is not
going to be able to dive for at least two months-

This obviously means a considerable loss of income-

rt appears that she had a faulty air-line- rt was showing signs of perishing and
excessive wear and tear- This was not picked up by Simon Banks, the CSIRO’s
maintenance officer responsible for all dive equipment on the southern Victorian coast-
You task

Unfortunately Rochelle does not have insuance cover. We need to explore whether
she has a case against the CSIRO in negligence-

provide me with a comprehensive, footnoted memorandum so that
we can e-mail her later this week outlining her legal position, the key issues, and the
potential defences-

set out the memorandum in an easy-to-oomprehend format- However,
given this is an internal craft in the first instance, I would like to fully footnote you
memorandum, and where appropriate, provide reference to relevant legislation-