Reservoir Operator found negligent in operation for flood control

Judement delivered on UCC v ESB Court Case (Ireland)


Judge Max Barrett of the Commercial Court in Dublin delivered his verdict on this case on 5 October 2015. University College Cork (UCC) sued the Electricity Supply Board for recovery of the damages caused by flooding to its campus in November 2009.

Mekong Modelling Director Jeremy Benn  together with Duncan Faulkner of JBA Consulting.were key expert witnesses for the Plaintiff (UCC) - providing expert witness services on flood hydrology, flood warning and modelling.  The Judge termed the evidence provided and its defence through long days of interogation by barristers as  "outstanding".

The Court found ESB negligent, and also the cause of a statutory nuisance - on the grounds of holding water levels too high in the lead up to the flood and failure to undertake an adequate flood risk assessment or provide adequate warning. 

The Judge also found UCC guilty of contributory negligence through failing to undertake adequate flood risk assessments for its new buildings.

He ruled that ESB should be liable for 60% of the damages and UCC liable for 40%.

If upheld at the (likely) appeal, this case has possible ramifications for reservoir owner/operators as it confirms there is a duty of care to other property/persons to manage flood risk even where the reservoir does not increase the flood peak.