Glasgow Corporation v Taylor: HL 18 Nov 1921

A father brought an action for damages for the death of his son who had eaten poisonous berries growing in one of the defenders’ public parks. The plants were easily accessible from a children’s play area and it was said that the defender had a duty to warn children against the danger or to prevent them from reaching the shrubs.
Held: A plea to the relevancy of the pursuer’s case was repelled.
Lord Shaw of Dunfermline said: ‘Grounds thrown open by a municipality to the public may contain objects of natural beauty, say precipitous cliffs or the banks of streams, the dangers of the resort to which are plain.’ One cannot ‘expect an occupier to provide protection against an obvious danger on his land arising from a natural feature such as a lake or a cliff and to impose a duty on him to do so.’ and ‘In grounds open to the public as of right, the duty resting upon the proprietors . . of making them reasonably safe does not include an obligation of protection against dangers which are themselves obvious. Dangers, however, which are not seen and obvious should be made the subject either of effectively restricted access or of such express and actual warning of prohibition as reaches the mind of the persons prohibited.’ The House treated artificial landscape features on the same footing as natural ones.

Lord Shaw of Dunfermline
[1922] 1 AC 44, 1922 SC (HL) 1, [1921] All ER Rep 1, [1921] UKHL 2, 1921 2 SLT 254, 29 ALR 846, [1921] UKHL 3
Bailii, Bailii
ApprovedStevenson v Glasgow Corporation 1908
Lord M’Laren said: ‘in a town, as well as in the country, there are physical features which may be productive of injury to careless persons or to young children against which it is impossible to guard by protective measures. The situation of a town . .

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 . .
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 . .
AppliedCotton v Derbyshire District Council CA 20-Jun-1994
No notice warning of danger was necessary on a public right of way for an obviously dangerous cliff. The Court upheld the decision of the trial judge dismissing the plaintiff’s claim for damages for serious injuries sustained from falling off a . .
AppliedKarl Andrew Whyte v Redland Aggregates Limited CA 27-Nov-1997
The appellant dived into a disused gravel pit and struck his head on an obstruction on the floor of the pit. The Court dismissed his appeal that he was not entitled to damages.
Held: ‘In my judgment, the occupier of land containing or bordered . .
CitedCotton v Derbyshire Dales District Council CA 10-Jun-1994
The claimant had been injured falling on land owned by the defendant. The had gone down what he must have known was not a path and fallen over a cliff. He appealed dismissal of his claim.
Held: Any notice would only have warned of the obvious . .
CitedWoodland v Essex County Council SC 23-Oct-2013
The claimant had been seriously injured in an accident during a swimming lesson. She sought to claim against the local authority, and now appealed against a finding that it was not responsible, having contracted out the provision of swimming . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 29 November 2021; Ref: scu.181271