Braithwaite v South Durham Steel Co Ltd and Another: QBD 1958

The Plaintiff was employed by South Durham Steel as a crane driver’s mate and he was preceding a mobile crane along a railway line. Another line, in the ownership of the British Transport Commission (BTC), and not his employers, ran alongside and was very close by. At some point while walking he inadvertently put his foot a few inches over the sleepers, and was struck by oncoming traffic on the line when he was startled by a warning should from the crane driver. BTC argued he was a trespasser at the moment of the accident, and that absent a reckless or deliberate act to harm him, no other duty was owed.
Held the Claimant had placed his foot onto the BTC’s land and did not have permission to do so, but even so held that it was unrealistic and artificial on the facts of the case, where he was a licensee on part of the walkway and his encroachment was wholly inadvertent, to find that his involuntary encroachment onto the BTC’s land made him a trespasser.
Mr Justice Edmund Davies said this: ‘Even so, the submissions of learned Counsel . . appears to me to be unrealistic when it is thought to be applied to the facts of this case, namely, that (a) the plaintiff was a licensee in the walkway, and (b) his encroachment of a few inches over or upon the sleepers of the commission’s line was only inadvertent and involuntary and the result of his startled turnabout as a result of the warning shout . . ‘

Mr Justice Edmund Davies
[1958] 1 WLR 986
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedOvu v London Underground Ltd (Duty of Care) QBD 13-Oct-2021
Safety of Stairs within Undergrounds Care of duty
The Claimant sued the London Underground company because their relative Mr Ovu died after falling down stairs on a fire escape. It was late at night and he wandered on his own on a cold night, outdoors, onto the stairs. The staircase was in good . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Torts – Other

Updated: 27 November 2021; Ref: scu.670075