Hammersmith and City Railway Co v Brand: HL 13 Jul 1869

In the absence of negligence, damage caused by operations authorised by statute is not compensatable unless the statute expressly so provides. The wording of the sections, and in particular section 6 of the Railways etc Act, only entitled a claimant to compensation for damage suffered as a result of the actual carrying out of, or existence of, the works to construct the railway, and not to compensation for any damage suffered as a result of the consequent use of the railway.
Lord Colonsay said: ‘[T]he right to compensation given by [section 6 of the Railways etc Act] is limited to compensation for the injury done by the construction of the railway. It contains nothing whatever as to compensation for the use to be made of the railway. That is not alluded to. If compensation had been intended to be given for an injury of this kind incident to the subsequent using of the railway . . . I should have expected something to be said with reference to it.’
Lord Chelmsford said: ‘Now, as to the words ‘by the construction thereof,’ it seems to me that it would be doing violence to language . . to extend them to any injury which is not the immediate consequence of the construction of the railway . .
To argue that, as the injury could not have occurred unless the railway had been previously constructed, therefore it was caused ‘by the construction thereof,’ is certainly a strong example of the illogical reasoning of ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc,’ and would extend to every accident or injury occurring upon the railway after its construction, which, of course, could not have happened if it had not been constructed.’


Lord Chelmsford, Lord Colonsay


[1869] LR 4 HL 171, [1869] UKLawRpHL 10, (1869-1870) LR 4 HL 171




England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedTransco plc v Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council HL 19-Nov-2003
Rylands does not apply to Statutory Works
The claimant laid a large gas main through an embankment. A large water supply pipe nearby broke, and very substantial volumes of water escaped, causing the embankment to slip, and the gas main to fracture.
Held: The rule in Rylands v Fletcher . .
CitedWildtree Hotels Ltd and others v Harrow London Borough Council HL 22-Jun-2000
The compensation which was payable for disturbance, when works were carried out on land acquired compulsorily, did not extend to the damage caused by noise dust and vibration arising from the works. Where however damage could be brought within the . .
CitedWiltshire County Council v Crest Estates Ltd. and others CA 5-Aug-2005
The builders had agreed as part of the planning process to indemnify the council against all claims incidental to the carrying out of the works for which permission was given. The council had to compulsorily purchase land, and sought repayment from . .
CitedMoto Hospitality Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport CA 26-Jul-2007
The company sought damages to its business on a motorway service station when works closed an access road.
Held: The Secretary of State’s appeal succeeded. A claim for compensation under section 10 had not been established, at least in respect . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Nuisance, Damages

Updated: 29 May 2022; Ref: scu.188030