The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

What does "reasonably practical" mean?

Graham Marshall - Saturday, October 08, 2011
The legal definition of the term "Reasonably Practicable" was established in English courts by Lord Justice Asquith in the case brought by Edwards against the National Coal Board in 1949.
Lord Justice Asquith said:

"To imply that a computation must be made by the owner, in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) is placed in the other; and that if it be shown that there is a gross disproportion between them the risk being insignificant in relation
to the sacrifice the defendants discharge the onus on them.  Moreover, this computation falls to be made by the owner at a point of time anterior to the accident".

This decision of the English courts has since been confirmed by the Australian High Court (in 2001) in the case Slivak v Lurgi (Australia) Pty Ltd.

If Lord Justice Asquith's judgment leaves you none the wiser, in simple terms demonstrating that risk is reduced to a level that is reasonably practicable means that the duty-owner (e.g., an owner or operator) has to show, through reasoned and supported arguments, that there are no other practical measures that could reasonably be taken to reduce risks further.

Hope that's clear enough but if not, feel free to get in touch with your questions.

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