Jolley v Sutton London Borough Council: HL 24 May 2000

An abandoned boat had been left on its land and not removed by the council. Children tried to repair it, jacked it up, and a child was injured when it fell. It was argued for the boy, who now appealed dismissal of his claim by the Court of Appeal, that the possibility of injury to children playing on such an object was foreseeable. The judge had also found a particular danger of an older boy seeking to prop it up and repair it. The council had argued that this latter event was unforseeable.
Held: The Court of Appeal had not been justified in disturbing the Judge’s finding of fact. Given the ingenuity of children for mischief, mischief which went beyond that foreseen, but which was of the same type, was capable of leaving the authority liable under the Act.
There was no social value or cost saving to the Council in creating a risk by leaving a derelict boat lying about. It was something which they ought to have removed whether it created a risk of injury or not. They were liable for an injury which, though foreseeable, was not particularly likely. Foreseeability does not denote a fixed point on the scale of probability.

Lord Browne-Wilkinson Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Steyn Lord Hoffmann Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough
Times 24-May-2000, Gazette 08-Jun-2000, [2000] 1 WLR 1082, [2000] UKHL 31, [2000] 3 All ER 409
House of Lords, Bailii
Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 2(2)
England and Wales
Appeal fromRegina v London Borough of Sutton, ex parte Jolley CA 19-Jun-1998
The plaintiff, a boy, was injured when playing on a derelict boat left on council land. The council appealed an award of damages against it.
Held: A local authority may be liable for injury caused by a derelict boat not removed from their land . .
First instanceJolley v Sutton London Borough Council QBD 1998
The claimant, a boy was injured when playing around a boat abandoned on land owned by the defendant. He had propped it up to attempt a repair, and was crushed when it fell on him. He said that in not removing the boat they had been negligent.
CitedDonoghue (or M’Alister) v Stevenson HL 26-May-1932
Decomposed Snail in Ginger Beer Bottle – Liability
The appellant drank from a bottle of ginger beer manufactured by the defendant. She suffered injury when she found a half decomposed snail in the liquid. The glass was opaque and the snail could not be seen. The drink had been bought for her by a . .
CitedBolton v Stone HL 10-May-1951
The plaintiff was injured by a prodigious and unprecedented hit of a cricket ball over a distance of 100 yards. He claimed damages in negligence.
Held: When looking at the duty of care the court should ask whether the risk was not so remote . .
CitedHughes v Lord Advocate HL 21-Feb-1963
The defendants had left a manhole uncovered and protected only by a tent and paraffin lamp. A child climbed down the hole. When he came out he kicked over one of the lamps. It fell into the hole and caused an explosion. The child was burned. The . .
CitedOverseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock and Engineering Co Ltd (The Wagon Mound No 1) PC 18-Jan-1961
Foreseeability Standard to Establish Negligence
Complaint was made that oil had been discharged into Sydney Harbour causing damage. The court differentiated damage by fire from other types of physical damage to property for the purposes of liability in tort, saying ‘We have come back to the plain . .
CitedOverseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Miller Steamship Co Pty (The Wagon Mound) (No 2) PC 25-May-1966
(New South Wales) When considering the need to take steps to avoid injury, the court looked to the nature of defendant’s activity. There was no social value or cost saving in this defendant’s activity. ‘In the present case there was no justification . .

Cited by:
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CitedJohnston v NEI International Combustion Ltd; Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd; similar HL 17-Oct-2007
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CitedGeary v JD Wetherspoon Plc QBD 14-Jun-2011
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Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Negligence, Torts – Other

Leading Case

Updated: 27 November 2021; Ref: scu.82576