Henly v Lyme Corporation: 1828

The plaintiff owned property by the sea. It was swamped by the tide because the corporation, who had been granted land by the Crown subject to a condition that it maintain the sea-defences of the cob, had ‘wrongfully and unjustly intending to injure, prejudice, and aggrieve the plaintiff’ permitted these defences to become ‘ruinous, prostrate, fallen down, washed down, out of repair, and in great decay’ for want of necessary maintenance.
Held: Best CJ said: ‘Now I take it to be perfectly clear, that if a public officer abuses his office, either by an act of omission or commission, and the consequence of that, is an injury to an individual, an action may be maintained against such public officer. The instances of this are so numerous, that it would be a waste of time to refer to them’. The Chief Justice gave the example of a man to whom a clergyman refused to administer the sacrament, who was described as ‘thereby prejudiced in his civil rights’ because, under the Corporation Act 1661 and the Test Act 1673, receiving the sacrament within a specified period was a condition of eligibility for membership of a town corporation and of holding civil and military offices. The corporation had neglected its duty and the plaintiff was clearly entitled to be compensated for the financial loss he had suffered.
Obiter: ‘What constitutes a public officer? In my opinion every one who is appointed to discharge a public duty, and receives a compensation in whatever shape, whether from the Crown or otherwise, is constituted a public officer.’


Best CJ


[1828] EngR 701, (1828) 5 Bing 91, (1828) 130 ER 995



Cited by:

CitedWatkins v Home Office and others HL 29-Mar-2006
The claimant complained of misfeasance in public office by the prisons for having opened and read protected correspondence whilst he was in prison. The respondent argued that he had suffered no loss. The judge had found that bad faith was . .
CitedRegina v Bowden (T) CACD 24-Feb-1995
The defendant, a maintenance manager, was accused of misconduct in public office. He had caused works to be carried out by other employees of the local authority on premises occupied by a friend when such works were not required under the . .
Appeal fromHenley v The Mayor And Corporation Of Lyme Regis HL 27-Jun-1829
Where a verdict was taken by consent on two counts, the Court, on the application of the Plaintiff, amended the postea, by entering the verdict on one, (to which the evidence applied,) though the Judge who presided at the trial declined to interfere . .
CitedWatson v Sadiq and Another CA 16-Jul-2013
The appellant and defendant said that the agreement compromising their action, and embodied within a Tomlin schedule, had been reached by duress and was vitiated. He said that the Recorder had exercised undue influence in advising the need for a . .
CitedMitchell, Regina v CACD 12-Feb-2014
‘Is a paramedic employed by a National Health Service Trust in its ambulance service the holder of a public office so as to be subject to criminal sanction for misconduct?’
Held: The appeal succeeded; he was not: ‘the nature of the duty . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other

Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.239996