This was an appeal from a decision of His Honour Judge Bowsher in the Technology & Construction Court of 3 March 2003. The judge had found the defendant architect (Paskin) liable in full for the damage arising from the spread of fire on 4 January 1998 that destroyed the food factory in Southall of which the claimant was the leaseholder. The judge found that the fire had started as a result of several acts of negligence by the claimant's employees but that the defendant had a duty to guard the claimant against the consequences of their own negligence. The architect breached that duty by failing to specify non-combustible panels for the room in which the fire broke out, even though the risk of fire spreading had been brought to the architect's attention by a specialist subcontractor.
The appellant architect, Paskin, raised two issues for the appeal. First, it argued that it was not liable for any damage because the outbreak of the fire and its spread was caused solely by the claimant's negligence. Alternatively if the Court considered that Paskin was primarily liable, then it argued that Sahib Foods recovery should be reduced by 90% because Sahib had in fact started the fire as a result of one of their employees leaving a "bratt pan" on with oil in it without a thermostat or safety device.