Farley v Skinner: HL 11 Oct 2001

The claimant sought damages from the defendant surveyor. He had asked the defendant whether the house he was to buy was subject to aircraft noise. After re-assurance, he bought the house. The surveyor was wrong and negligent. A survey would not normally cover this question, but he had been asked the question and he had answered it. Could the buyer claim damages for non-pecuniary loss?
Held: The contract was a contract to secure pleasure, relaxation and peace of mind. That did not need to be the very object of the contract for damages to be awarded. The surveyor could not escape liability by saying he had not contracted to produce the result requested. Nor was the claimant obliged to move house or surrender his claim. The innocent party is entitled to be placed in the position that he would have been in had the party in breach exercised due care. Damages might be recoverable for distress and inconvenience for breach of contract where the matter was important to the claimant, that had been made clear to the defendant, and the required action had been incorporated into the contract. The court viewed an award of 10,000 pounds for the discomfort of suffering aircraft noise, as high and at the very top of an appropriate bracket.

Lord Steyn
Times 15-Oct-2001, Gazette 18-Oct-2001, [2001] UKHL 49, [2002] 2 AC 732, [2001] 3 WLR 899, [2001] All ER 801
House of Lords, Bailii
England and Wales
CitedRuxley Electronics and Construction Ltd v Forsyth HL 29-Jun-1995
Damages on Construction not as Agreed
The appellant had contracted to build a swimming pool for the respondent, but, after agreeing to alter the specification to construct it to a certain depth, in fact built it to the original lesser depth, Damages had been awarded to the house owner . .
CitedWatts and Co v Morrow CA 30-Jul-1991
The plaintiff had bought a house on the faith of the defendant’s report that there were only limited defects requiring repair. In fact the defects were much more extensive. The defendant surveyor appealed against an award of damages after his . .
CitedJohnson v Gore Wood and Co HL 14-Dec-2000
Shareholder May Sue for Additional Personal Losses
A company brought a claim of negligence against its solicitors, and, after that claim was settled, the company’s owner brought a separate claim in respect of the same subject-matter.
Held: It need not be an abuse of the court for a shareholder . .
CitedLivingstone v Rawyards Coal Co HL 13-Feb-1880
Damages or removal of coal under land
User damages were awarded for the unauthorised removal of coal from beneath the appellant’s land, even though the site was too small for the appellant to have mined the coal himself. The appellant was also awarded damages for the damage done to the . .
Appeal fromFarley v Skinner CA 6-Apr-2000
A surveyor was engaged to report on a property, and was specifically requested to advise on the levels of aircraft noise from a nearby airport which might affect the property. He failed to report on the proximity of a navigation beacon.
Held: . .
CitedHeywood v Wellers CA 1976
The claimant instructed solicitors in injunction proceedings which they conducted negligently. The solicitors had put the case in the hands of an incompetent junior clerk. She sued acting in person, and succeeded but now appealed the only limited . .

Cited by:
CitedDennis and Dennis v Ministry of Defence QBD 16-Apr-2003
The applicants owned a substantial property near an airbase. They complained that changes in the patterns of flying by the respondents were a nuisance and sought damages. Walcot Hall was subjected to very high noise levels from military aircraft. . .
CitedDunnachie v Kingston Upon Hull City Council; Williams v Southampton Institute; Dawson v Stonham Housing Association EAT 8-Apr-2003
EAT Unfair Dismissal – Compensation
In each case, The employee sought additional damages for non-economic loss after an unfair dismissal.
Held: The Act could be compared with the Discrimination Acts . .
AppliedHamilton Jones v David and Snape (a Firm) ChD 19-Dec-2003
The claimant was represented by the respondent firm of solicitors in an action for custody of her children. Through their negligence the children had been removed from the country. She sought damages for the distress of losing her children.
CitedYearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust CA 4-Feb-2009
The defendant hospital had custody of sperm samples given by the claimants in the course of fertility treatment. The samples were effectively destroyed when the fridge malfunctioned. Each claimant was undergoing chemotherapy which would prevent them . .
CitedMilner and Another v Carnival Plc (T/A Cunard) CA 20-Apr-2010
Damages for Disastrous Cruise
The claimants had gone on a cruise organised by the defendants. It was described by them as ‘the trip of a lifetime.’ It did not meet their expectations. There had been several complaints, including that the cabin was noisy as the floor flexed with . .
CitedCoventry and Others v Lawrence and Another SC 26-Feb-2014
C operated a motor racing circuit as tenant. The neighbour L objected that the noise emitted by the operations were a nuisance. C replied that the fact of his having planning consent meant that it was not a nuisance.
Held: The neighbour’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Professional Negligence, Damages, Contract

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.166572