Statutory Duty Not Extended by Common Law
The claimant sought damages after a road accident. The driver came over the crest of a hill and hit a bus. The road was not marked with any warning as to the need to slow down.
Held: The claim failed. The duty could not be extended to include one which went beyond the original common law duty to maintain the surface of the road. The statutory duty to maintain the road did not create additional duties in negligence. Lord Scott said: ‘[A]n overriding imperative is that those who drive on public highways do so in a manner and at a speed that is safe having regard to such matters as the nature of the road, the weather conditions and the traffic conditions. Drivers are first and foremost themselves responsible for their own safety.’
Lord Steyn said: ‘the courts must not contribute to the creation of a society bent on litigation, which is premised on the illusion that for every misfortune there is a remedy’
Lord Hoffmann said: ‘Speaking for myself, I find it difficult to imagine a case in which a common law duty can be founded simply upon the failure (however irrational) to provide some benefit which a public authority has power (or a public law duty) to provide.’
Steyn, Hoffmann, Scott, Rodger LL
 UKHL 15, Times 02-Apr-2004,  1 WLR 1057,  RTR 27,  2 All ER 326
England and Wales
Cited – X (Minors) v Bedfordshire County Council; M (A Minor) and Another v Newham London Borough Council; Etc HL 29-Jun-1995
Liability in Damages on Statute Breach to be Clear
Damages were to be awarded against a Local Authority for breach of statutory duty in a care case only if the statute was clear that damages were capable of being awarded. in the ordinary case a breach of statutory duty does not, by itself, give rise . .
Cited – Barrett v London Borough of Enfield HL 17-Jun-1999
The claimant had spent his childhood in foster care, and now claimed damages against a local authority for decisions made and not made during that period. The judge’s decision to strike out the claim had been upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Cited – Stovin v Wise, Norfolk County Council (Third Party) HL 24-Jul-1996
Statutory Duty Does Not Create Common Law Duty
The mere existence of statutory power to remedy a defect cannot of itself create a duty of care to do so. A highway authority need not have a duty of care to highway users because of its duty to maintain the highway. The two stage test ‘involves . .
Cited – Rowling v Takaro Properties Ltd PC 30-Nov-1987
(New Zealand) The minister had been called upon to consent to the issue of shares to a foreign investor. The plaintiff said that the minister’s negligent refusal of consent had led to the collapse of the project and financial losses.
Held: On . .
Appeal from – Gorringe v Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council CA 2-May-2002
The claimant sought damages, alleging that an accident occurred as a result of the defendant highway authority’s negligence in failing to mark the road properly. A ‘Slow’ sign had become faded and had not been maintained.
Held: The judge had . .
Cited – Phelps v Hillingdon London Borough Council; Anderton v Clwyd County Council; Gower v Bromley London Borough Council; Jarvis v Hampshire County Council HL 28-Jul-2000
The plaintiffs each complained of negligent decisions in his or her education made by the defendant local authorities. In three of them the Court of Appeal had struck out the plaintiff’s claim and in only one had it been allowed to proceed.
Cited – Tomlinson 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 . .
Cited – Burnside and Another v Emerson and Others CA 1968
The plaintiffs were injured in a road accident caused by flooding. They sued the executors of the deceased driver whose car spun out of control into the path of their own car, and also the highway authority, who had installed a proper system of . .
Cited – Goodes v East Sussex County Council HL 16-Jun-2000
The claimant was driving along a road. He skidded on ice, crashed and was severely injured. He claimed damages saying that the Highway authority had failed to ‘maintain’ the road.
Held: The statutory duty on a highway authority to keep a road . .
Cited – Haydon v Kent County Council CA 1978
Impacted snow and ice had built up on a steep, narrow, made-up footpath from Monday to Thursday during a short wintry spell. The plaintiff slipped and broke her ankle. The highway authority operated a system of priorities. Their resources were fully . .
Cited – Goldman v Hargrave PC 13-Jun-1966
(Australia) In Western Australia, a red gum tree was struck by lightning and set on fire. The appellant had the tree cut down, but took no reasonable steps by spraying the fire with water to prevent the fire from spreading, believing that it would . .
Cited – Lavis v Kent County Council QBD 18-Feb-1992
The plaintiff had received serious injuries whilst riding his motor cycle at a road junction for which the defendants were responsible. He alleged that they were liable to him for failing to ensure that proper warning signs were placed at the . .
Cited – Larner v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council CA 20-Dec-2000
The duty on a local authority to promote road safety did not remove from them the discretion as to how that duty was to be implemented. A claim that the authority had failed to place certain signage, and that an accident had occurred which might not . .
Cited – O’Rourke v Mayor etc of the London Borough of Camden HL 12-Jun-1997
The claimant had been released from prison and sought to be housed as a homeless person. He said that his imprisonment brought him within the category of having special need. He also claimed damages for the breach.
Held: The Act was intended . .
Cited – Capital and Counties Plc and Another v Hampshire County Council; Etc CA 20-Mar-1997
Three cases were brought against fire services after what were said to be negligent responses to call outs. On one, the fire brigade was called to a fire at office premises in Hampshire. The fire triggered the operation of a heat-activated sprinkler . .
Cited – Geddis v Proprietors of Bann Reservoir HL 18-Feb-1878
The owner of land injured by operations authorised by statute ‘suffers a private loss for the public benefit’, and in the absence of clear statutory authority is unable to claim: ‘It is now thoroughly well established that no action will lie for . .
Cited – Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis v Reeves (Joint Administratix of The Estate of Martin Lynch, Deceased) HL 15-Jul-1999
The deceased was a prisoner known to be at risk of committing suicide. Whilst in police custody he hanged himself in his prison cell. The Commissioner accepted that he was in breach of his duty of care to the deceased, but not that that breach was . .
Cited – Skilton v Epsom and Ewell Urban District Council CA 1937
A line of traffic studs had been placed in the centre of the highway. One of them had become loose. As a car passed over the loose stud it shot out and struck the plaintiff on her bicycle. She fell off and was injured. She sued the highway . .
Cited – Sedleigh-Denfield v O’Callaghan HL 24-Jun-1940
Occupier Responsible for Nuisance in adopting it
A trespasser laid a drain along a ditch on the defendant’s land. Later the defendants came to use the drain themselves. A grate was misplaced by them so that in a heavy rainstorm, it became clogged with leaves, and water flowed over into the . .
Cited – East Suffolk Rivers Catchment Board v Kent HL 1941
An exceptionally high spring tide caused many breaches of the banks of the River Deben, and extensive flooding, including the respondent’s farm. By section 6 of the 1930 Act, the appellants had a statutory power to maintain the flood defences, but . .
Cited – Dorset Yacht Co Ltd v Home Office HL 6-May-1970
A yacht was damaged by boys who had escaped from the supervision of prison officers in a nearby Borstal institution. The boat owners sued the Home Office alleging negligence by the prison officers.
Held: Any duty of a borstal officer to use . .
Cited – Leta Almeda v Her Majesty’s Attorney General for Gibraltar PC 24-Nov-2003
PC (Gibraltar) . .
Cited – Anns and Others v Merton London Borough Council HL 12-May-1977
The plaintiff bought her apartment, but discovered later that the foundations were defective. The local authority had supervised the compliance with Building Regulations whilst it was being built, but had failed to spot the fault. The authority . .
Cited – Sutherland Shire Council v Heyman 4-Jul-1985
(High Court of Australia) The court considered a possible extension of the law of negligence.
Brennan J said: ‘the law should develop novel categories of negligence incrementally and by analogy with established categories. ‘
Dean J said: . .
Cited – Murray v Nicholls 1983
A car was driven without stopping out of a side street colliding with another car. One driver was killed and his passengers were injured. They sued the driver’s widow and Strathclyde Regional Council as roads authority. It was averred that, some . .
Cited – Fiona Thompson v Hampshire County Council CA 27-Jul-2004
The claimant fell into a ditch by a path on the highway in the dark. She appealed a finding of no liability on the highway authority.
Held: The authority’s responsibility was as to the surface structures of the road way and not as to the . .
Cited – Jane Marianne Sandhar, John Stuart Murray v Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions CA 5-Nov-2004
The claimant’s husband died when his car skidded on hoar frost. She claimed the respondent was liable under the Act and at common law for failing to keep it safe.
Held: The respondent had not assumed a general responsibility to all road users . .
Cited – Carty v London Borough of Croydon CA 27-Jan-2005
The claimant sought damages in negligence from education officers employed by the respondent. He appealed refusal of his claim. A statement of special education needs had been made which he said did not address his learning difficulties. The . .
Cited – Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd CA 31-Mar-2006
The deceased had suffered a head injury whilst working for the defendant. In addition to severe physical consequences he suffered post-traumatic stress, became more and more depressed, and then committed suicide six years later. The claimant . .
Cited – HM Customs and Excise v Barclays Bank Plc HL 21-Jun-2006
The claimant had served an asset freezing order on the bank in respect of one of its customers. The bank paid out on a cheque inadvertently as to the order. The Commissioners claimed against the bank in negligence. The bank denied any duty of care. . .
Cited – Department for Transport, Environment and the Regions v Mott Macdonald Ltd and others CA 27-Jul-2006
Claims arose from accidents caused by standing water on roadway surfaces after drains had not been cleared by the defendants over a long period of time. The Department appealed a decision giving it responsibility under a breach of statutory duty . .
Cited – Neil Martin Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners 28-Sep-2006
The claimant sought damages from the revenue for their failure properly to process his claim for a sub-contractor’s certificate which had led to losses.
Held: The revenue owed no common law duty of care to the claimant and nor were damages . .
Cited – Rowley and others v Secretary of State for Department of Work and Pensions CA 19-Jun-2007
The claimants sought damages for alleged negligence of the defendant in the administration of the Child Support system.
Held: The defendant in administering the statutory system owed no direct duty of care to those affected: ‘a common law duty . .
Cited – Shine v Tower Hamlets CA 9-Jun-2006
The claimant a nine year old boy had attempted to leap frog a bollard. He was badly injured when it fell. The authority had identified that it was insecure some months earlier. The authority appealed a finding of negligence and breach of statutory . .
Cited – K v Central and North West London Mental Health NHS Trust and Another QBD 30-May-2008
The claimant appealed against an order striking out his claim in negligence. He had leaped from a window in a suicide attempt. The accommodation was provided by the defendant whilst caring for him under the 1983 Act.
Held: The case should be . .
Cited – Mitchell and Another v Glasgow City Council HL 18-Feb-2009
(Scotland) The pursuers were the widow and daughter of a tenant of the respondent who had been violently killed by his neighbour. They said that the respondent, knowing of the neighbour’s violent behaviours had a duty of care to the deceased and . .
Cited – Connor v Surrey County Council CA 18-Mar-2010
The claimant teacher said that she suffered personal injury from stress after the board of governors improperly failed to protect her from from false complaints. The Council now appealed against an award of substantial damages.
Held: The . .
Cited – Poulton v Ministry of Justice CA 22-Apr-2010
The claimant was trustee in bankruptcy but the court failed to register the bankruptcy petition at the Land Registry as a pending action. The bankrupt was therefore able to sell her land, and the trustee did not recover the proceeds. The trustee . .
Cited – Ali v The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council CA 17-Nov-2010
The claimant appealed against rejection of her claim for damages after slipping on a footpath maintainable by the defendant after an accumulation of mud and debris. The claim appeared to be the first under section 130, and the highway authority . .
Cited – Home Office v Mohammed and Others CA 29-Mar-2011
The claimants sought damages saying that after a decision had been made that they should receive indefinite leave to remain in 2001 (latest), the leave was not issued until 2007 (earliest) thus causing them severe losses. The defendant now appealed . .
Cited – Michael and Others v The Chief Constable of South Wales Police and Another SC 28-Jan-2015
The claimants asserted negligence in the defendant in failing to provide an adequate response to an emergency call, leading, they said to the death of their daughter at the hands of her violent partner. They claimed also under the 1998 Act. The . .
Cited – Dodson v Environment Agency QBD 28-Feb-2013
The claimant asserted that the steps taken by the defendant to encourage wildlife in the estuary had led to otters predating his fish farm stocks, and that the claimant had not been informed of this, in particular as to the construction of otter . .
Cited – Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police SC 8-Feb-2018
Limits to Police Exemption from Liability
The claimant, an elderly lady was bowled over and injured when police were chasing a suspect through the streets. As they arrested him they fell over on top of her. She appealed against refusal of her claim in negligence.
Held: Her appeal . .
Cited – Poole Borough Council v GN and Another SC 6-Jun-2019
This appeal is concerned with the liability of a local authority for what is alleged to have been a negligent failure to exercise its social services functions so as to protect children from harm caused by third parties. The principal question of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Local Government, Road Traffic
Updated: 24 April 2022; Ref: scu.195054