Commissioner for Railways v Quinlan: PC 9 Mar 1964

(New South Wales) The plaintiff trespasser was hit by the occupier’s train. He succeeded at trial and on first appeal.
Held: A mere failure to exercise reasonable care was not a basis for claim by a trespasser, there must: ‘be injury due to some willful act involving something more than the absence of reasonable care. There must be some act done with deliberate intention of doing harm or at least act done with reckless disregard of the presence of the trespasser, – reckless disregard of ordinary humanity towards him’.
Viscount Radcliffe held: ‘trespasser to whom the occupier is accountable for his actions, even if dangerous’, is one of whose presence he actually knows or one whose presence at the time of injury can fairly be described as extremely likely or very probable. To go further is to accept the proposition that a trespasser who insists on forcing himself on to the occupier’s premises and lets him know that he intends to enter in this way can impose on the latter, against his will, a duty to take precautions and have care which may seriously impede the conduct of his lawful activities. In their lordships’ opinion the law does not admit of this result.
Viscount Radcliffe
[1964] 1 All ER 897, [1964] 2 WLR 817, [1964] AC 1054, [1964] UKPC 9
Cited by:
CitedBritish Railways Board v Herrington HL 16-Feb-1972
Land-owner’s Possible Duty to Trespassers
The plaintiff, a child had gone through a fence onto the railway line, and been badly injured. The Board knew of the broken fence, but argued that they owed no duty to a trespasser.
Held: Whilst a land-owner owes no general duty of care to a . .

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Updated: 09 January 2021; Ref: scu.182871