The appellants kept a fuel oil storage tank with an unlocked valve in their yard near the river. An unauthorised person entered during the night and opened the valve. The justices convicted.
Held: The appeal was allowed. ‘On general principles of causation, the question which the justices ought to have asked themselves was whether that intervening cause was of so powerful a nature that the conduct of the appellants was not a cause at all but was merely part of the surrounding circumstances.’ The answer was that ‘it was not the conduct of the appellants but the intervening act of the unauthorised person which caused the oil to enter the river.’
 2 All ER 357
England and Wales
Wrongly decided – Empress Car Company (Abertillery) Ltd v National Rivers Authority HL 22-Jan-1998
A diesel tank was in a yard which drained into a river. It was surrounded by a bund to contain spillage, but that protection was over ridden by an extension pipe from the tank to a drum outside the bund. Someone opened a tap on that pipe so that . .
Explained – Alphacell Ltd v Woodward HL 3-May-1972
The defendant operated a paper manufacturing plant which involved maintaining tanks of polluting liquid near the river, so that pollution would occur if they overflowed. There were pumps which ought normally to have drawn off the liquid and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.190106