A mill had burned down when children had lit a fire. They had not intended the fire to get out of hand as it did. The insurance company refused to pay out on the basis that the policy did not cover damage arising from ‘any wilful malicious or criminal act’ carried out by the assured’s immediate family, including children.
Held: ‘[W]ilful is used in many contexts. One can safely say that it always means deliberate and that it will take any further meaning from the word or words which it qualifies and its context but beyond that one cannot go. . Equating wilfulness with recklessness is consistent with the dictionary definition of wilful which includes obstinate and headstrong conduct. That is the essence of recklessness as well.’ The insurer’s appeal failed.
Lord Justice Tuckey Lady Justice Hallett The Honourable Mr Justice Thomas
 EWCA Civ 421,  Lloyd’s Rep IR 85
England and Wales
Cited – In re Young and Harston’s Contract CA 1885
The court set out what was meant by the term ‘wilful default’ when used in a contract for the sale of land. Bowen LJ said: ‘Wilful is a word of familiar use in every branch of law, and although in some branches of the law it may have a special . .
Cited – Porter v Zurich Insurance Company QBD 5-Mar-2009
The claimant insured his house with the defendants. Severely depressed, drunk and delusional, he set fire to it and now claimed after refusal to pay out. He said that he was not acting as a free agent.
Held: A claimant who seeks to recover . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 06 July 2022; Ref: scu.241396