Hanson v Wearmouth Coal Co Ltd: CA 1939

The trial judge had found in favour of the first defendant, a coal company, and held the second defendant, a gas company, wholly to blame for the loss incurred by the plaintiff as the result of an explosion caused by a leakage of gas. The second defendant appealed.
Held: The Court upheld the judge’s decision that the first defendant was wholly to blame.
Goddard LJ however said: ‘It remains only to notice the argument of counsel for the coal company that, as the plaintiff did not appeal against the judgment entered for the coal company, the appeal of the gas company, in so far as it seeks to have them held liable for contribution, is incompetent. We cannot agree. The gas company were entitled at the trial, by reason of the provisions of the Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act, 1935, to show, if they could, that the coal company were liable in whole or in part for the accident so as to obtain the benefit of indemnity or contribution given by the Act. The duty of the court below was to decide on the rights of the parties at the date of the writ. The Court of Appeal must rehear the case and give the judgment which ought to have been given below, and, if the judgment below should have been that both defendants were liable, so that a right of contribution would arise, this court has power to enter judgment accordingly, even though the plaintiff be content with judgment against one defendant.’


Goddard LJ


[1939] 3 All ER 47


Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act 1935


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedMoy v Pettman Smith (a firm) and another HL 3-Feb-2005
Damages were claimed against a barrister for advice on a settlement given at the door of the court. After substantial litigation, made considerably more difficult by the negligence of the solicitors, the barrister had not advised the claimant at the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice

Updated: 31 July 2022; Ref: scu.222553