A public authority owes the public a duty of care in certain circumstances. For example, when Transport for NSW performs work on George Street, they have a duty to ensure that the surface on which they are performing work is sufficiently slip resistant. In other words, a public authority has a duty to exercise its powers in a way that is lawful and not negligent.
If a person slips on a surface and he or she can be prove that the surface was not sufficiently slip resistant, thy may be entitled to make a public liability claim against the responsible public authority on the basis that it breached its duty of care, or, in other words, exercised its power in a negligent way.
In those circumstances, a claimant would be required to prove the usual elements of a negligence claim including foreseeability, damages, remoteness and causation.
Public authorities, however, are afforded significant protections under the Act which has made it notoriously difficult for claimants to succeed in claims against them. In particular, a public authority can rely on the following principles in determining whether it has a duty of care or whether it has breached a duty (see Section 42(a)-(d) of the Act):