Houghland v R R Low (Luxury Coaches) Ltd: CA 1962

A passenger’s bag had been placed in one coach that had broken down was intended to be transferred to a second coach. When the second coach arrived at the passenger’s destination the bag was not in the hold.
Held: The duty of care of a bailee is the standard one. It is for the person in possession of the goods to prove any loss or damage to goods in their possession is not caused by their own actions or fault.
Where the defendant’s possession of the goods was unintentional and there was no lack of care, detinue will not lie.
Ormerod LJ said ‘once the failure of the bailee to hand over the articles in question has been proved, there is a prima facie case, and the plaintiff is entitled to recover unless the defendant can establish a defence to the satisfaction of the court’
Bankes LJ said: ‘I think that the law still is that, if a bailee is sued in detinue only, it is a good answer for him to say that the goods were stolen without any default on his part, as the general bailment laid in the declaration pledges the plaintiff to the proof of nothing except that the goods were in the defendant’s hands and were wrongfully detained . .’
References: [1962] CLY 157, [1962] 2 All ER 159, [1962] 1 QB 694
Judges: Ormerod LJ, Bankes LJ
Jurisdiction: England and Wales
This case cites:

  • Cited – Coldman v Hill CA 1918
    A bailee of cattle who had without negligence let them escape and be lost.
    Held: he was blameless in detinue but negligent in that he had failed to inform the owner of the loss as soon as possible, a duty which the court found to arise out of . .
    (120 LT 412, [1919] 1 KB 443, [1918] All ER Rep 438)

This case is cited by:

  • Dictum applied – Chaudry v Prabhakar CA 1988
    The plaintiff sued a friend of hers for wrongly advising her that a car she was thinking of buying was in good condition.
    Held: An agent, even a volunteer, owed a duty of care appropriate for those circumstances. The measurement was objective, . .
    ([1989] 1 WLR 29, [1988] 3 All ER 718)
  • Cited – Thakrar v The Secretary of State for Justice Misc 31-Dec-2015
    County Court sitting at Milton Keynes. The claimant prisoner sought damages saying that his personal property had been damaged whilst in the care of the defendant.
    Held: The claims succeeded in part. Some damage was deliberate. There was a . .
    (, [2015] EW Misc B44)

These lists may be incomplete.
Last Update: 27 November 2020; Ref: scu.193403