E Hobbs (Farms) Limited v The Baxenden Chemical Co Limited: 1992

A fire had started in Hobbs’ barn when a spark from a grinding machine fell onto combustible material/debris below the machine. The fire spread into and destroyed Gerber’s adjacent hanger. Hobbs alleged that the fire spread was due to the action of the foam insulation in the barn (called Isofoam) and issued separate proceedings against Baxenden, the manufacturers of Isofoam.
Held: Hobbs was negligent. There was a real risk that the fire in the material/debris under the bench would get out of control and spread to the hanger, with or without the exacerbating effect of the Isofoam. However, not only was Hobbs liable to Gerber, but Baxenden was also liable to Hobbs, because Baxenden had made a number of misleading statements about the combustibility of the Isofoam. As to the Rylands v Fletcher claim he said : ‘Since I have decided that Hobbs was negligent, the Fire Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1774 provides no defence. I have rejected Hobbs’ arguments on causation and remoteness. Therefore Gerber has succeeded in establishing liability in respect of this cause of action [Rylands v Fletcher].’


Sir Michael Ogden QC


[1992] 1 Lloyds Rep 54


Fire Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1774

Cited by:

CitedLMS International Ltd and others v Styrene Packaging and Insulation Ltd and others TCC 30-Sep-2005
The claimants sought damages after their premises were destroyed when a fire started in the defendants neighbouring premises which contained substantial volumes of styrofoam. They alleged this was an unnatural use of the land.
Held: To . .
ApprovedStannard (T/A Wyvern Tyres) v Gore CA 4-Oct-2012
The defendant, now appellant, ran a business involving the storage of tyres. The claimant neighbour’s own business next door was severely damaged in a fire of the tyres escaping onto his property. The court had found him liable in strict liability . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Negligence, Nuisance

Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.230983