Brooke v Bool: 1928

Volunteer Was Joint Tortfeasor

A and B set out together to investigate the source of a gas leak which was B’s direct concern alone. A had come with him to help. Because B was too old to carry out a particular task, A carried it out instead. The means of investigation was ill-advised and an explosion took place.
Held: A was plainly liable. The Divisional Court held that B was liable too as a joint tortfeasor engaged in a common venture with A.
Talbot J said: ‘It is obvious that to examine a place in which an escape of gas is suspected is highly dangerous, unless proper care is taken; and that one of the necessary precautions against disaster is to avoid the use of a naked light. In my opinion the defendant, having undertaken this examination, was under a duty to take reasonable care to avoid danger resulting from it to the shop and its contents, and, if so, he cannot escape liability for the consequences of failure to discharge this duty by getting, as he did, some one to make the examination, or part of it, for him, whether that person is an agent, or a servant, or a contractor, or a mere voluntary helper. This is the principle of such cases as Bower v. Peate 1 Q. B. D. 321; Black v. Christchurch Finance Co. [1894] A C 48; Hughes v. Percival 8 App. Cas. 443; Hardaker v. Idle District Council [1896] 1 Q. B. 335; and see the judgment of Lord Blackburn in Dalton v. Angus 6 App Cas 740. The principle is that if a man does work on or near another’s property which involves danger to that property unless proper care is taken, he is liable to the owners of the property for damage resulting to it from the failure to take proper care, and is equally liable if, instead of doing the work himself, he procures another, whether agent, servant or otherwise, to do it for him.’

Talbot J
[1928] 2 KB 578
England and Wales
CitedThe Koursk CA 1924
The navigators of two ships had committed two separate torts or one tort in which they were both tortfeasors.
Held: Three situations were identified where A might be jointly liable with B for B’s tortious act. Where A was master and B servant; . .

Cited by:
CitedUnilever Plc v Gillette (UK) Limited CA 1989
Unilever claimed infringement of its patent. The court was asked whether there was a good arguable case against the United States parent company of the existing defendant sufficient to justify the parent company to be joined as a defendant and to . .
CitedMCA Records Inc and Another v Charly Records Ltd and others (No 5) CA 5-Oct-2001
The court discussed the personal liability of a director for torts committed by his company: ‘i) a director will not be treated as liable with the company as a joint tortfeasor if he does no more than carry out his constitutional role in the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 19 November 2021; Ref: scu.230358