Tort case-law crib-sheet

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A v National Blood Authority

Blood is a 'product' for purposes of CPA'87; a product may be defective even though eliminating the defect would be exceptionally difficult [hepatitis from blood transfusion

AB v Thameside & Glossop HA

Giving bad news in an impersonal way does not give rise to liability for psychiatric injury, if this is what resource constraints dictate [patients informed by letter of doctor's HIV-positive status

Adams v Ursell

Whether a activity amounts to a nuisance depends on the social utility of the activity, but only to a very limited extent [fish-and-chip shop in trendy street

Alcock v CC South Yorkshire

For 'secondary victim' to claim for phsyicatric injury, he must be (i) proximate in time and space; (ii) have 'close ties of love and affection' to the primary victim; (iii) observe the event or its aftermath with his unaided senses [Hillsborough stadium disaster

Alexander v North Eastern Railway Co

The defence of justification in defamation requires the defendant to prove the 'sting of the libel'; the imputation need not be perfectly accurate [defendant's reported claimants 3-week imprisonment, rather than 2-week

Allied Maples Group v Simmons & Simmons

Although damages cannot be recovered for 'loss of a chance' (Hotson), they may be recoverable if there is a 'real and substantial chance'

Allsop v Church of England Newspapers

In defamation, a slang term with a derogatory meaning noes not necessarily amount to a defamatory imputation [newspaper describes broadcaster as 'bent'

Andrews v Hopkinson

The supplier of a product may amount to a 'producer' (at common law) and incur liability for a defective product, if the defect is obvious and it would be reasonable for the supplier to have discovered it [obvious defect in 18-year-old car

Anns v London Borough of Merton

Inadequate building inspection may create liability for economic loss (but see Murphy)

Ashdown v Samuel Williams & Sons

Occupier's liability to visitors can be excluded by notice, if all reasonable steps have been taken to alert visitors to the danger (but this probably no longer applies to business, post-UCTA'77) [claimant injured on well-signposted dangerous footpath

Aswan Engineering v Lupdine Ltd

Liability for damage caused by defective products does not extend to the loss of the defective product itself (this is a matter for contract law!) [plastic container melted allowing contents to run out

Attorney General v PYA Quarries Ltd

In public nuisance, what constitutes a 'class of Her Majesty's subjects' is a question of fact to be decided in the individual case [dust and noise from blasting] |


B v NHS Trust

A mentally competent adult can refuse interventions (medical or otherwise) even when to do so would have fatal consequences [paralysed woman asks for life-support to be discontinued

Baker v Hopkins

A rescuer is not volens if the danger is one which would forseeably give rise to rescue attempt [petrol engine lowered down well

Baker v Willoughby

A second tortious event which overrides the injury of the first is not a novus actus interveniens [claimant succeeded against motorist for leg injury despite leg amputation after gunshot wound] (see also Jobling_)

Barkway v South Wales Transport=

Res ipsa loquitur inapplicable where cause of accident is known [claimant killed where bus tyre burst

Barnett v Chelsea & Kensington Hospital Mamagement Committee

No liability in negligence where claimant's harm would have occurred anyway (the 'but for' test) [claimant refused treatment for arsenic poisoing, but already beyond hope of recovery

Beard v London General Omnibus

No vicarious liability when employee acting completely outside his duties [bus conductor driving bus

Bird v Jones

No false imprisonment where there is merely obstruction of passage [claimant forced to walk around seating on Hammersmith Brdige

Bliss v Hall

No defence to claim of nuisance that the claimant moved to the area of the nuisance (claimant bought premises next to a candlemaker; fumes still amounted to a nuisance)

Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks

In negligence, standard of care is that of the 'reasonable man'

Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee

Medical negligence fails if treatment would be acceptable to a respectable body of practitioners [claimant injured during ECT treatment] (but see Bolitho)|

Bolitho v City & Hackney HA

Whether there was a breach of duty of care is a legal question, not a medical one; Bolam test is not absolute [medical opinion divided on whether patient should have been intubated

Bolton v Stone

A person is entitled not to take measures to obviate a forseeable, but minimal, risk [claimant struck by cricket ball hit out of pitch

Bone v Seal

'Loss of amenity' can amount to actionable nuisance [smells from pig farm

Bourhill v Young

Claim for psychiatric injury will fail if events would not similarly have affected a person of 'reasonable fortitude' (pregnant woman traumatized by aftermath of motorcycle accident, but having no relationship to the victim)

Brice v Brown

'eggshell skull rule' applies to pshyciatric injury; once established that injury would have been suffered by a person of reasonable fortitude, a person not of unreasonable fortitude can claim to the full extent of consequence [metally ill woman traumatized by minor injuries to daughter in road accident

British Celanese v Hunt Capacitors

Even a single event can amount to a nuisance, if it follows from an ongoing state of affairs [foil strips caused power failure to claimants' factory

BR Board v Herrington

Even before OLA'84, a trespasser is owed a duty of care, albeit of a low standard [child injured after climbing through know breach in railway fencing

Burton v Islington HA

A foetus can be the claimant in a tort action (provided it is born alive) [claimant sucessfully recovered for injuries sustained while in utero] (now covered by Congenital Disabilities Act)

Byrne v Deane

Not defamation to report that claimant did his lawful duty, however unpopular [defandant's graffitti implicated claimant in reporting unlawful gambling to police] |


Cambridge Water v Eastern Counties Leather

Rylands v Fletcher and nuisance require foresight of damage of the requisite meta (limitation on Strict liability ) [defendants not liable for damage caused by unforseeable seepage of tanning chemicals into water supply

Caparo v Dickman

Duty of care requires (i) foresight of harm; (ii) proximity; (iii) that it be 'fair, just, and reasonable' to create a duty of care

Capital & Counties v Hampshire CC

Fire service not negligent for failing to attend or put out fire, unless their actions create or increase damage

Cassidy v Daily Mirror

Imputation must be understood by others to be defamatory

Cassidy v Ministry of Health

For res ipsa loquitur to apply, claimant must show injury would not have arised without negligence [operation to relieve two stiff fingers resulted in four stiff fingers

Century Insurance v NI Road Transport Board

For vicarious liability, the fact that an employee is doing his job negligently does not prevent his acting in the course of his duties [petrol tanker delivery firm liable when employee driver caused a fire with a cigarette

Chadwick v BR Board

Rescuers can recover damages for psychiatric injury (but, since White, it is clearer that rescuers but be in danger themselves, or satsify the Alock_ test) [claimant traumatized while resuing victims of train crash

Chatterton v Gerson

Not trespass to carry out medical intervention when patient not fully informed of risks (but action may still lie in negligence) [claimant lost sensation in leg after spinal injection] (but contrast rather surprising decision in Nash v Sheehan)

Chaudhry v Prabhakar

In negligence, person who claims a particular skill must render service with that skill [claimant liable for recommending purchase of defective car

Christie v Davie

Action is more likely to amount to nuisance if motivated by malice [defendant interrupted claimant's piano lessons by banging on walls and shrieking

Clayton v Woodman Ltd

No limitation on liability for negligent misstatement where physical damage results [architect liable for advising bricklayer with the result that wall collapsed

Clunis v Camden & Islington HA

As a matter of policy, HA not liable to patient for consequences of patient's unlawful acts [psychotic patient failed to claim that he would not have stabbed victim if properly treated

Cockroft v Smith

Self-defence is available as a defence to an action in trepass [defendant bit off claiman't finger to avoid being poked in the eye (!)

Collins v Wilcock

Even a non-agressive application of force may amount to a battery [police constable unlawfully restraining suspect was a battery

Coltman v Bibby Tankers

A ship is 'equipment' for the purposes of Employers Liability (Defective Equipment) Act [claimants drowned when tanker sank

Condon v Basi

Consent not a defence when defendant's actions beyond the scope of the consent [claimant rugby player injured by foul tackle by defendant

Condon v Condon

A claimant who acts unreasonably due to a phobia is not contributorily negligent [sufferer from 'seat-belt phobia' not contributorily negligent when injured as a result of not wearing seat-belt

Conway v George Wimpey & Co

No vicarious liability where the employee acts in a way specifically forbidden by employers [passenger injured by company's driver's negligence; clear notices in cab not to carry passengers] (but see Rose v Plenty, which appears to find the opposite on similar facts)

Crown River Cruises Ltd v Kimbolton Fireworks Ltd

The owner of a permantently-moored barge had an interest in land sufficient to sustain an action in nuisance (despite the disapproval of Khorasandjan v Bush in Hunter_)

Cunningham v Reading FC

Defendant may be liable in negligence for failing to prevent the unlawful acts of other persons, when the acts were forseeable and could easily have been prevented [football club liable to police for injuries caused by violent spectators] (see also Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co) |


D&F Estates Ltd v Church Commissioners for England

Pure economic loss not recoverable [cost to lessee of replacing defective plastering by lessor's subcontractors

Danniels v Griffiths

Courts should be reluctant to extend the scope of absolute privilege [defendants statements about claimant to parole board not privileged

Dann v Hamilton

Defence of volenti not applicable where claimant accepts lift from drunk driver (now also s149 RTA'88; but see Morris v Murray_)

Davey v Harrow Corporation

Damage caused by tree root encroachment amounts to nuisance

Denny v Supplies & Transport Co

Acceptance of risk does not make claimant volens if he has no practicable alternative [docker injured while unloading badly-stowed timber

Derbyshire CC v Times Newspapers

Local authority cannot sustain action in defamation [allegations of financial misconduct

Donoghue v Stevenson

Duty of care owed to a claimant whom defendant ought reasonably to have in contemplation ('neighbour principle')

Doughty v Turner Ltd

Negligence action fails if damage is of a different meta than foreseeable [chemical explosion caused by asbestos falling into melting pot] (but see Hughes v Lord Advocate) |


Easson v London & North Eastern Railway Co

Res ipsa loquitur not applicable where defendant does not have full control of the cause of the damage [boy injured when train door fell open

Edwards v Railway Executive

For occupier's liability, repeated trespass -- even if known -- does not amount to licence [boy injured after climbing through hole in railway fence was a trespasser, not a visitor

Esso v Mardon

Hedly Byrne 'special relationship' might be capable of extension to any business relationship where advice is offered [Petrol supplier ought to have been able to estimate petrol sales

Evans v Triplex Safety Glass

In product liability, the defendant must show that the defect existed when product left the manufacturer [windscreen manufacturer not liable when windscreen shattered some time after installation] |


F v West Berkshire HA

Necessity may be a defence to action in tort [sterilization of mentally incapable woman

Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd

Where multiple causal factors contribute to injury, the 'but for' test may be suspended [claimant's mesothelioma caused by one of a number of employers' negligence

Ferguson v John Dawson Ltd

Whether a worker is an 'employee' is dependent on the expressed relationship between the worker and the employer, but not conclusively [labourer injured falling from roof deemed to be an employee, despite contract stating he was a subcontractor

Fowler v Lanning

In trespass, the claimant has the burden of proof (despite contrary historical principles) [statement of claim with no evidence by 'plaintiff shot the defendant' disclosed no cause of action

Froom v Butcher

Contributory negligence requires that the claimant contributed to his injuries, not to the cause of the incident [failure to wear seat-belt in car was contributorily negligent, even though it was not the cause of the crash] |


Generale Bank Nederland v Export Credit Guarantee Department

Employer not vacariously liable for employee's delierate unlawful act [employer not liable for creating the opportunity for employee to perpetrate a fraud

General Cleaning Contractors v Christmas

An employer has a duty to select competent employees and supervise them effectively [employee injured when cleaning a window from the outside of the building

Giles v Walker

Rylands v Fletcher does not apply to things that accumulate naturally on land [landowner not liable when seeds released by ploughing escaped from land] (but since Leakey v National Trust_ there may be liability in nuisance)

Glasgow Corporation v Taylor

For occupier's liability, occupier must expect children to be less careful than adults [boy dies after eating poisonous berries] (now s2(3)a of the OLA'57) (but parents also have a share of responsibility -- Phipps v Rochester Corporation)

Godfrey v Demon Internet

Defence of 'innocent publication' not applicable if defendant declines to remove a defamatory publication when asked to do so by claimant [imputations published on Internet bulletin board

Goldman v Hargrave

Occupier of land is required to abate a nuisance caused by his land, even if it arises naturally [landowner liable for not putting out tree on fire] (see also Leakey v NT)

Goodwill v British Pregnancy Advisory Service

Doctor not liable to woman for unwanted pregnancy, after not advising man of success rates of vasectomy

Goreham v BT

Employer's pension adviser liable to employee for inadequate pension advice (extension of White v Jones)

Greatorex v Greatorex

Claim for psychiatric injury may fail on policy grounds even where Alcock criteria satisfied [fireman could not claim after rescuing son from car crash] |


Hall Ltd v Simons

Advocates can be liable for negligent advocacy

Harris v Birkenhead Corporation

For occupier's liability, occupation is equated with control, not physical occupation [child injured in derlict building after local authority had taken ownership

Harrison v Southwark & Vauxhall Water Co

A temporary, lawful interference will generally not amount to a nuisance [interference caused by drilling a water bore

Haley v London Electricity Board

In negligence, standard of care must accomodate defendant's peculiarities if they are forseeable [blind pedestrian falls into defendant's workings

Hartt v Newspaper Publishing

In defamation, the 'right-thinking person' is not 'avid for scandal'; the fact that a defamatory meaning can be read does not mean that it will_ be so read

Heath v Mayor of Brighton

To amount to nuisance, an interference must affect people of normal sensitivity [unusually sensitive minister affected by noise which did not affect church services

Hedly Byrne Ltd v Heller Ltd

There can be liability for negligent misstatement leading to pure economic loss

Henderson v Merrett Ltd

There can be liability for negligent provision of services leading to pure ecomonic loss (extension of Hedley Byrne)

Heard v Weardale Cole & Coke

No false imprisonment if claimant voluntarily places himself into confinement [mine operator not liable for refusing to return miner to surface

Herald of Free Enterprise, Re

The fact that a practice is commonplace and acceptable does not prevent it being negligent [ ferries setting sail with bow doors open

Hill v CC South Yorkshire

Police do not attract civil liability for failing to apprehend criminals [mother of murdered woman failed to recover damages from police for not preventing her murder

Hollywood Silver Fox Farm v Emmett

Lawful and reasonable action is more likely to amount to nuisance if motivated by malice [defendant landowner liable for harm deliberately caused to claimant's business following defandant's (lawfully) shooting on his land

Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co

'Neighbour principle' of Donoghue is a statement of principle [borstal supervisors liable for damage caused by escaped inmates

Horrocks v Lowe

For qualified privilege to succeed, defendant must believe the imputation he makes; but the belief need not be rational [remarks made by councillor in council meeting attracted QP, despite being irrational

Hotson v East Berkshire HA

No damages for 'loss of a chance' [boy loses leg after falling from tree] (but strict test of proof of causation may be upset by Fairchild)

Hudson v Ridge Manufacturing Ltd

Employers not vicariously liable to employee for injury caused by wrongdoing of fellow employee, but still primarily liable for not providing competent coworkers

Hughes v Lord Advocate

Damage is not too remote if it is of a foreseeable meta, even though not of forseeable extent [boy injured when oil lamp fell into hole and exploded

Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd

To succeed in nuisance, claimant must have an interest in land; interference with television reception by building does not amount to nuisance

Hussain v Lancaster CC

Landlord not liable in nuisance for tenants' wrongdoing, unless foreseeable [racial harrassment by council tenants] (see also Tetley v Chitty)

Huth v Huth

In defamation, there is no publication if the defendent need not have forseen that anyone but the claimant would read the imputation [defamatory private letter was not 'published' when read by the claimant's butler] |


ICI Ltd v Shatwell

Although unusual, it is occasionally possible for an employer to use the defence of volenti in an action by an employee [employee handling explosives in contravention of employer's instructions and statutory safety codes] |


Jobling v Associated Dairies Ltd

A natural event which overrides a tortious injury is a novus actus interveniens (but see Baker v Willoughby_ -- tortious event is not _novus_)

Johnstone v Bloomsbury HA

Employer may be liable to employee for stress-related mental health problems [junior doctors sues HA for physicatric problems resulting form overwork

Joel v Morrison

An employee who is 'on a frolic of his own' is not acting in the course of his employer's business (see also Storey v Ashton)

Jolley v Sutton LBC

Whether a hazard is forseeable must not be approached in too narrow terms [owners of derelict boat liable for injuries caused to boys trying to repair it

Jones v Boyce

It is not contributory negligence to act irrationally in the heat of the moment [passenger injured jumping off coach about to overturn

Jones v Livox Quarries Lt

For contributory negligence to succed against a claimant, it is not necessary to show that the claimant ought to have forseen the precise injury. A party is guilty of contributory negligence if he ought reasonably to have foreseen that, if he did not act as a reasonable prudent man, he might be hurt himself [claimant contributorily negligent when injured while riding on the towbar of a vehicle which was struck by another vehicle]

Kennaway v Thompson

Where the claimant proves nuisance, he is ordinarily entitled to an unjunction against the defendant, and not limited to damages [injunction granted against a watersports operator, despite hist argument that the social utility of sports facilities should allow the activities to continue and the plaintiff be satsified with damages

Kent v Roberts, Griffiths, and London Ambulance Service

Emergency services do not owe a duty of care to the public, but do to an individual once a request for help has been accepted [claimant suffered brain damage after late dispatch of ambulance

Keppel v Sa'ad bin Ahmad

Employer not vicariously liable for deliberate wrongdoing of employee [bus conductor struck passenger during altercation] (see also Generale Bank Nederland)

Khorasandjan v Bush

Harrassing phone calls can amount to nuisance (but C of A decision that nuisance is actionable without interest in land later overruled in Hunter)

Knightly v Johns

In negligence, the chain of causation is more likely to be deemed broken by negligent conduct than sensible actions [negligent motorist not liable for damage caused when police officer sent a constable against the flow of traffic to close tunnel

Kubach v Hollands

Product liability may be excluded by suitably clear warning [chemical supplier not liable for explosion in school chemistry lab

Lane v Holloway

Self-defence may be used against an action in battery, but only if it is in proportion to the threat [defendant struck a 68-year-old man violently in response to an insult against the defendant's wife

Latimer v AEC Ltd

It is not necessary to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid unlikely risks to avoid liability in negligence [factory floor contaminated with oil; risk of slippage could only be avoided by closing the works] (see also Bolton v Stone

Leakey v National Trust

There can be liability in nuisance if the interference arises from the natural state of the defendant's land, and nuisance was forseeable [claimant's property damaged by landslide

Leigh v Gladstone

Necessity is a defence to an action in trespass [force-feeding of hunger striker] (but see also B v NHS Trust)

Letang v Cooper

Trespass requires intentionality, even if action is direct [car driving over claimant's legs was not a trespass -- only negligence available

Limbus v London General Omnibus

Employer vicariously liable even if employee is carrying out his duties improperly [bus company liable for damage caused by drivers racing

Lister v Hesley Hall

Employers not normally vicariously liable for deliberate wrongdoing of employees (e.g, Keppel), except where the opportunity for wrongdoing is 'inextricably interwoven' with the duties of employment [residential school liable for abuse of pupils by warden

Lister v Romford Ice & Cold Storage Ltd

An employer held vicariously liable for an employee is entitled to recover an intemnity from the employee [insurers allowed to sue negligent driver on behalf of his employers

Lloyd v Grace Smith & Co

Employers not normally vicariously liable for criminal acts of employees (e.g, Generale Bank Nederland), except where it holds out that the employer is entitled to act in certain ways [solicitor liable for clerk's fraudulent property transaction

London Artists v Littler

Defence of fair comment only allowed where comment is based on true facts [stage producer claimed that actors deliberately sabotaged a play] (but note that this restriction does not apply to qualified privilege -- Horrocks)|

Lowerey v Walker

For occupier's liability, a person is not a trespassor if he has implied licence to enter (but see Edwards v Railway Executive) |


McFarlane v Tayside Health Board

Costs of brining up a healthy child not recoverable in negligence [pregnancy after negligent sterilization] (but see Rees v Darlington)

McGhee v NCB

In negligence, strict causation need not be proved if the defendant contributed materially to the claimant's injury [worker claimed against employer for not providing washing facilities for removing brick dust] (see also Fairchild)

McKinnon industries v Walker

Although no recovery in nuisance if claimant is unusually sensitive, greater losses of unusual sensitivity are recoverable if a person or object of normal sensitivity would have been affected (orchid growing affected by chemical fumes which would have affected sturdier plants)

McHale v Watson

In negligence, standard of care expected of children is that of a 'reasonable child' of the same age [12-year-old defendant not liable when he threw a metal stick which struck the claimant

McLoughlin v O'Brian

Psychiatric injury recoverable if claimant attends the immediate aftermath of a tragic event, and witnesses it by 'unaided sense' [claimant witnessed dead and untreated injured family members in hospital after accident] (see also Alcock)

Malone v Laskey

Remedy in nuisnce only available to claimant with proprietary interest in land [licencee occupier suffered injury and damage by vibrations from adjoining property -- not recoverable in nuisance

Marc Rich & Co v Bishop Rock Marine Co

Even if there is forseeability and proximity, duty of care only imposed where there are no policy reasons to avoid doing so [marine classification society not liable for loss of cargo

Marcic Thames Water Ltd

Breaches of Art.8 of ECHR may amount to nuisance [water company allowed floodwater to overload sewers

Mason v Levy Auto Parts Ltd

In Rylands v Fletcher, 'non-natural user' can be equated with 'unreasonable use' in the law of negligence [claimant's garden damaged by combustion of solvents on defendant's land

Mason v William & Williams

In product liability, claimant needs to show defect caused by manufacture, on balance of probabilities [eye injury caused by spark from defective chisel; defect could have been caused elsewhere, but claimant did not have to prove it was not

Maynard v West Midlands RHA

Professionals not negligent merely because a body of fellow practitioners would have acted differently [claimant's vocal cords removed to prevent spread of Hodgkin's disease

McWilliams v Sir William Arrol Ltd

Even if employer breaches duty of care to employee, employee can only recover if the breach if the cause of the injury [construction worker would not have worn protective harness, even if provided

Meering v Graheme-White Aviation Co

False imprisonment still possible when claimant does not know he is imprisoned [claimant questions while two security guards Pstationed outside to prevent his leaving

Mersey Docks v Coggins & Griffith

Where employee seconded to another employer, it is presumed that vicarious liability remains with the original employer [damage caused by negligent operation of dock crane

Monson v Tussauds

To prove libel, there must be publication in permanent form; however, publication need not amount to words [wax efigy depicting claimant with gun was an actionable libel

Morgan v Odhams Press

Whether a defamatory imputation refers to the claimant depends on whether a reasonable person who knew the circumstances would understand it to [claimant wrongly implicated in kidnapping of girl by criminal gang

Morris v Murray

Entrusting his safety to an obvious drunk may make the claimant volenti [ drunk pilot kills himself and injures passenger] (but does not apply to car drivers -- see Dann v Hamilton_)

Muirhead v Industrial Tank Specialities Ltd

Pure economic loss not recoverable when arising from defective product [lobster farmer lost profits while defective tanks being repaired

Murphy v Brentwood DC

Pure economic loss resulting from defective inspection not recoverable outside of contract [local authority inspectors negligently passed building plans

Mutual life v Evatt

For liability under the Hedley Byrne principle, defendant should be primarily in the business of giving advice [claimant lost money after negligent investment advice] (but close in the House of lords, and now somewhat out of favour -- see Esso v Mardon_) |


Nettleship v Weston

In negligence, standard of care not lowered by defendant's limitations [learner driver must drive as a reasonably competent driver] (but not applicable to children -- see McHale v Watson)

Newstead v London Express Newspapers

No defence to defamation action that the defendant did not mean to refer to the claimant [man libelled by newspaper because he coincidentally had the same name as the subject of an article

Nicols v Marsland

No nuisance if interference is 'act of God'

Norwich CC v Harvey

Exclusion of liability in contract, if reasonable, will exclude liability in tort [claimant's premises damaged by negligent use of blowtorth by defendant subcontractor; claimant's contract with main contractor excluded liability of subcontractors] |


Ogwo v Taylor

Professional rescuer is owed a duty of care by person who causes danger [fireman injured by exploding chip-fat in fish-and-chip shop] (also Salmon v Seafarer Restaurants)

Osman v UK

ECHR forbids the polic blanket immunity from negligence claims [police failed to prevent disturbed teaching killing pupil

Owens v Brimmell

Accepting lift from drunk driver may amount to contributory negligence (but not volenti unless extreme -- see Dann v Hamilton_, _Morris v Murray_) |


Page v Smith

'Primary victim' of negligence can recover for psychiatric injury under ordinary principles of personal injury [claimant's mental health affected by relatively minor road accident

Palmer v Tees HA

'Secondary victim' can only recover for psychiatric injury if he witnesses events or aftermath [mother of murdered daughter could not recover, despite close involvement with police investigation

Pape v Cumbria CC

Employer liable to employee if employer fails to warn of dangers inherent in work [cleaner contracted dermatitis from handling detergent] (but see McWilliams v Sir William Arrol Ltd)

Paris v Stepney BC

In negligence, standard of care is raised if defendants knew of claimant's abnormal sensitivity to injury [one-eyed claimant blinded by injury to remaining eye

Parkinson v St James & Seacroft Hospital

Costs of bringing up a disabled child may be recoverable in negligence [parents of disabled child succeeded against hospital for negligent sterilization

Perrett v Collins

Marc Rich immunity should not readily be applied in personal injury cases [inspectors of light airplane liable for injury to passenger

Perry v Kendricks Transport

Rylands v Fletcher does not apply when damage is caused by deliberate act of a third party [owner of coach park not liable for injury caused when petrol tanks deliberately drained and ignited by persons unknown

Phipps v Rochester

Occupiers must be prepared for children to be less careful than adults (Glasgow Corporation v Taylor), but is entitled to assume that parents will exercise control over their children [child fell into trench that should have been obvious to parents

Pitts v Hunt

Claim fails if claimant incited defendant to criminal act (ex turpi causa) [motorcycle passenger could not recover from (deceased) driver after inciting him to dangerous driving

Priestly v Fowler

Employer not vicariously liable to employee (but this principle now reversed by the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act (1945)) |


R v Bournewood NHS Trust

No false imprisonment when a patient would have been detained under Mental Health Act powers if he had tried to leave (but see Meering v Graheme White Aviation)

Rae v Mars Ltd

A prominent notice may exclude occupier's liability (Ashdown v Samuel Williams), but stronger measures may need to be taken if the danger is unusual

Read v Lyons

In Rylands v Fletcher, what consitutes 'natural user' will change with social factors [munitions factory held to be natural user in wartime

Ready-Mixed Concrete v Minister of Pensions

In determining whether a person is an employee or not, due weight must be given to the wording of the contract, but a worker who carries the economic risk is unlikely to be an employee (driver paid for own vehicle -- not employee despite contract)

Rees v Darlington

Disabled parent may be able to recover costs of bringup up child after negligent sterilzation; healthy parents should also (despite McFarlane) be entitled to a 'conventional award'

Reeves v MPC

Police liable for suicide in custody where suicide was foreseeable

Revill v Newbury

Occupier owes duty of care to trespasser, even one with criminal intent (defendant hid in garden shed and shot burglar)

Reynolds v Times Newspapers

Political journalism does not automatically attract qualified privilege

Rickards v Lothian

Accumulation of water for domestic purposes is not a 'non-natural user' for Rylands v Fletcher [water tank overflowed onto claimant's premises

Rigby v CC Northamptonshire

In Rylands v Fletcher, defendant need not have an interest in land [police fired tear-gas canister into house

Robinson v Kilvert

To amount to nuisance, an interference must affect processes or property of normal sensitivity [no recovery for damage to unusually sensitive paper manufacturing process affected by heat] (see Heath v Mayor of Brighton, but see also McKinnon Industries v Walker_)

Robinson v Balmain New Ferry Co

No false imprisonment if a reasonable fee is charged for release [claimant forced to pay 1p to exit ferry dock

Roe v Ministry of Health

In product liability, defendant's standard of care judged against knowledge available at the time of the incident [spinal anaesthetic contaminated by seepage through microscopic cracks in glass ampoules

Roles v Nathan

Occupiers can expect visitors to exercise skill appropriate to the purpose of their visit [no liability to chimney sweeps who fell in dangerous chimney

Rose v Plenty

Vicarious liability may still be found when employee acts against express instructions, if employers knew that this was likely [child injured when thrown from a moving milk float] (but see Conway v George Wimpey)

Ross v Caunters

Solicitor liable to beneficiaries for negligent handling of will (based on dubious principle of Anns v Merton BC, but nevertheless upheld by House of lords in White v Jones_)

Rylands v Fletcher

Defendant who makes 'non-natural user' of his land liable for escape of dangerous things accumulated there |


Salmon v Seafarer Restaruants

Professional rescuer is owed a duty of care by person who causes danger [fireman injured by exploding chip-fat in fish-and-chip shop] (also Ogwo v Taylor)

Scott v London & St Catherine Docks

In negligence, where (i) defendant has sole control of the cause of damage, (ii) the injury would not have arisen without proper care, (iii) there is no other evidence of cause, then negligence may reasonably by assumed (res ipsa loquitur) [claimant struck by falling sacks of sugar

Sedleigh Denfield v O'Callaghan

Escape of water from pipework may amount to a nuisance [pipe blocked by leaves in pipe laid by defendant water company] (but see Transco v Stockport)

Sheehan v Nash

Actions outside the scope of consent amount to battery [hairdressing committed battery by applying the wrong hairstyle

Sim v Stretch

A defamatory imputation is one that 'lowers the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society' [claimant failed to satisfy this test, regarding letter which he felt implied he had borrowed money from his housemaid

Sims v Leigh RFC

OLA'57 does not allow for recovery where visitor to premises voluntarily accepts risk [player injured in rugby match] (Bunker v Charles Brand says that knowledge of danger in itself_ does not make the claimant _volens_)

Slipper v BBC

In defamantion, each new release of the imputation constitutes a new publication by the original defendant [BBC alleged police officer negligent in failing to apprehend the perpetrators of the 'great train robbery'; new libel each time allegation repeated in newspapers

Smith v Charles Baker Ltd

Defence of volenti rarely applicable to employers in actions by employees [employee injured by rocks falling from crane] (but see ICI v Shatwell_)

Smith v Leech Brain Ltd

In negligence, damage is not too remote when it results from claimant's vulnerability ('egg-shell skull') [defendant with predisposition to skin cancer suffered metal burns

Smith v Littlewoods Organization Ltd

No general duty of care to prevent harm caused by another person's deliberate wrongdoing [owners of derelict building not liable when trespassers caused fire

Smith v Stages

Employer vicariously liable for torts committed by employees while travelling between premises (pipe lagger crashed car driving back from assignment in employer's time)

Spartan Steel & Alloys Co v Martin & Co

Pure economic loss not recoverable (claimant could not recover for lost productivity during power outage)

Speed v Thomas Swift & Co

An employer has a duty to his employees to devise a safe system of work (employee injured when loading ship with damaged rails)

Spring v Guardian Assurance

Person who negligently offers a detrimental job reference may be liable to the candidate for the consequences

Stanley v Powell

Trespass to the person requires an element of fault

Stansbie v Troman

Defendant may be liable for harm caused by another party's wrongdoing, if he accepted responsibility to prevent that harm [decorators left house unlocked, allowing burglars to gain access] (but see Smith v Littlewoods)

Stennett v Hancock & Peters

In product liability, 'manufacturer' interpreted broadly (person who repaired lorry wheel incompetently was a 'manufacturer')

Stephens v Myers

Assault does not require physical contact

Stephenson Jordan & Harrison Ltd v MacDonald & Evans

A person is an employee if his work is an integral part of the employer's business

Storey v Ashton

For vicarious liability, an employee who makes a journey outside working hours is not acting in the course of business

Stovin v Wise

Local authority not liable for negligently failing to exercise the power it has (LA had determined to improve a section of road, but did not ultimately do so. Not liable for resulting accident)

Sturges v Bridgman

Whether a nuisance is actionable dedpends on the locality (what would be a nuisance in Belgrave Square would not necessarily be so in Bermondsey -- but see St Helens Smelting)

St Helens Smelting v Tipping

Where a nuisance causes personal discomfort, whether it is actionable depends on the locality; when it causes physical damage, it does not [smelting fumes damage trees and crops

Swinney v CC Northumbria

Despite Hill v CC South Yorkshire, the police have a duty of care to members of the public with whom they have a relationship of proximity (there was a cause of action against the police for allowing details of an informer to be released; however the action failed at trial) |


Tetley v Chitty

Landlord not liable in nuisance for activity of lessee, unless the nuisance arose from the purpose for which the lease was granted [lease made for the purpose of operating a go-kart track] (but see Wringe v Cohen)

Thomas v Bradbury, Agnew Co

Defence of fair comment negative by malice [writer of defamatory book review failed fair comment because his hostility to the authors books was evident in court

Thomas v NUM

No assault if threat cannot be carried out (miners not assaulted by pickets, because they were inside a bus and the pickets outside)

Thrace v Maurice

Doctors liable to pay costs of raising child after negligently failing to warn on the risk of unsuccessful vasectomy (but see more recently MacFarlane v Tayside, and even more recently Rees v Darlington_)

Tolley v Fry

Where defamation is based on true innuendo, claimant must show that readers would have had the necessary information to complete the innuendo [amateur golfer pictured with defendant's chocolate

Transco v Stockport MBC

Rylands v Fletcher still good law; but accumulation of water is not actionable either under RvF or nuisance [water pipe fractured and damaged gas main

Tubervill v Savage

No assault if threat cannot be carried out (see also Thomas v NUM) |


| Vitelli v Mundie's Select Library

For defamation, dissemination may amount to publication [mobile library failed return libellous book when requested by publisher] (but now innocent publication defensible under s.1 Defamation Act 1996) |


Wagon Mound, The

In negligence, only consequences which are reasonably foreseeable can lead to recovery of damages (but see Hughes v Lord Advocate, Doughty v Turner_)

Walker v Northumblerland CC

Employers liable for stress-related illness if such an illness is forseeable (see also Johnstone v Bloomsbury)

Watson v British Boxing Board of Control

Although there is no liability for voluntarily-assumed risks, liability may be found where defendant has assumed responsibility to minimize those risks [claimant boxer had accepted the risk of injury by another boxer, but not the risk of inadequate medical treatment

Watt v Herfordshire CC

In negligence, duty of care less likely to be breached in emergency situations [claimant fireman struck by incorrectly-stowed equipment while driving to fire

Watt v Longsdon

Defence of qualified privilege requires that the person to whom the imputation is communicated has a duty to receive it [company chairman not liable for repeating imputation to board members, but was liable for repeating it to his wife in a social setting

Wells v Cooper

In negligence, standard of care assessed by reference to the reasonable person who holds himself competent to do the work in question [claimant injured when badly-fitted doorhandle broke off door

Whatman v Pearson

Employer liable for employee's authorized activity performed in unauthorized way [employee left horses unattended in street] (see also Limpus v London General Omnibus)

Wheat v Lacon

The 'occupier' of premises is the person in control of the premises

Wheeler v JJ Saunders Ltd

Planning approval for activity does not prevent it being a nuisance [defendant liable despite planning authority for a pig weaning business

White v Jones

Hedley Byrne liability may be extended for claimants other than those to whom negligent advice was given [solicitor liable to beneficiaries of will] (see also Goreham v BT_)

Williams v Reason

For justification to succeed as defence to defamation, it is the 'sting' of the imputation that must be shown to be true, not the specific facts [amateur rugby player failed to claim in defamation when defendant alleged he had written a book for profit; the 'sting' was that he made money from the sport, which was shown to be true by other evidence

Wilkinson v Downton

There may be liability for any intentionally-inflicted physical harm, even if it does not amount to a trespass to the person (woman wrongly told that husband had been injured)

Wringe v Cohen

Landlord not ordinarily liable for nuisance committed by lessee (but see Tetley v Chitty), but he may be liable if he has a contractual obligation to repair [nuisance caused by dangerous wall that landlord had an obligation to repair] |


Yachuk v Oliver Blaise Co

A child is unlikely to be contributorily negligent [garage supplied petrol to child, who used to to make a fire] |