Burden of proof lies with G-MW
Re: ‘Feud over property damage’ (Country News, August 8).
Goulburn-Murray Water has the burden of proving that it acted with care and skill when it damages private property in the exercise of its powers.
This means it has to show that there was no practical way of avoiding the damage.
The burden is hard to shift.
The reverse onus of proof, in my opinion, is the foundation of the duty of G-MW to find out what irrigation infrastructure exists before it enters land to do works (or it authorises contractors to do so).
In the absence of proper records of what existed before being damaged or destroyed, G-MW, in my opinion, must reconstruct infrastructure to best practice standard in the district, even if the standard is better than previously existed.
G-MW must ensure that its authorised contractors act with care and skill not to cause damage when they enter private property in exercise of statutory powers and G-MW will itself be liable for the damage they caused, in my opinion, if it does not. — Edwin Kennon