Darby v National Trust: CA 29 Jan 2001

The claimant’s husband drowned swimming in a pond on the National Trust estate at Hardwick Hall. Miss Rebecca Kirkwood, the Water and Leisure Safety Consultant to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, gave uncontradicted evidence, which the judge accepted, that the pond was unsuitable for swimming because it was deep in the middle and the edges were uneven. She said The National Trust should have made it clear that swimming in the pond was not allowed and taken steps to enforce the prohibition.
Held: It was for the court to set the standard, not the witness. The risk from drowning in a small pond is obvious, and no warning should be required. Where there is a special risk, of catching Weill’s disease from swimming in a stretch of water, and a notice would have prevented the deceased swimming, the owner’s negligence in not erecting a warning sign is irrelevant where this was not in fact a cause of the death.


Times 23-Feb-2001, [2001] PIQR 372, [2001] EWCA Civ 189




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedTomlinson v Congleton Borough Council and others HL 31-Jul-2003
The claimant dived into a lake, severely injuring himself. The council appealed liability, arguing that it owed him no duty of care under the Act since he was a trespasser. It had placed warning signs to deter swimmers.
Held: The council’s . .
CitedHampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club and Another v Corporation of London and Another Admn 26-Apr-2005
Swimmers sought to be able to swim unsupervised in an open pond. The authority which owned the pond on Hampstead Heath wished to refuse permission fearing liability for any injury.
Held: It has always been a principle of the interpretation of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Negligence

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.79804