Barkway -v- South Wales Transport; HL 1950

References: [1950] AC 185, [1950] 1 All ER 392, [1950] WN 95
Coram: Lord Porter, Lord Radcliffe, Lord Normand
The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur should not be used where the judge has presented to him alternate versions of the facts and his job is to decide between them.
Lord Radcliffe said that an event which in the ordinary course of things is more likely than not to have been caused by negligence is by itself evidence of negligence.
Lord Normand said: ‘the fact that an omnibus leaves the roadway and so causes injury to a passenger or to someone on the pavement is evidence relevant to infer that the injury was caused by the negligence of the owner, so that, if nothing more were proved, it would be a sufficient finding of liability against him.’
As to the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur: ‘The maxim is no more than a rule of evidence affecting onus. It is based on commonsense, and its purpose is to enable justice to be done when the facts bearing on causation and on the care exercised by the defendant are at the outset unknown to the plaintiff and are or ought to be within the knowledge of the defendant.’
This case cites:

  • Appeal from – Barkway -v- South Wales Transport CA ([1949] 1 KB 54, [1950] 1 All ER 392)
    A bus had left the road and crashed as a result of a tyre burst. In stating how the defendant could discharge the onus of proof the Lord Justice said: ‘To displace the presumption [of negligence] the defendants must . . prove (or it must emerge from . .

This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Smith and Another -v- Harris PC (Bailii, [2006] UKPC 48)
    (Cayman Islands) The respondent appealed a finding of negligence. She drove a car along a road colliding with three pedestrians, the claimants. The pedestrians said they had been walking in single file in a lay-by off the main carriageway. The . .
  • Cited – Smith -v- Fordyce and Another CA (Bailii, [2013] EWCA Civ 320)
    The claimant appealed against rejection of his claim for personal injuries from a road accident. The respondent driver had crashed into a wall. The claimant had been his front seat passenger. The judge had found the respndent not to be at fault, . .

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