The plaintiff contracted to buy a cargo to be shipped on the defendant’s vessel. Because of poor stowage, the cargo was damaged. At the time of the damage the claimant was neither the owner nor possessor of the cargo, but under the terms of the purchase contract he had assumed the risk of damage to the cargo.
Held: For a person to claim in negligence for loss caused to him by reason of loss of or damage to property, he must have had either the legal ownership of or a possessory title to the property concerned at the time when the loss or damage occurred. It is not enough for him to have only had contractual rights in relation to such property which have been adversely affected by the loss of or damage to it. The House (obiter) rejected the argument that the duty of care owed by a party could be excluded by a contract between claimant and a third party.
Lord Brandon said: ‘In order to enable a person to claim in negligence for loss caused to him by reason of loss of or damage to property, he must have had either the legal ownership of or a possessory title to the property concerned at the time when the loss or damage occurred.’
Lord Brandon of Oakbrook
 AC 785,  UKHL 10,  2 Lloyd’s Rep 1,  2 WLR 902
England and Wales
Cited – Homburg Houtimport BV v Agrosin Private Ltd (the ‘Starsin’) HL 13-Mar-2003
Cargo owners sought damages for their cargo which had been damaged aboard the ship. The contract had been endorsed with additional terms. That variation may have changed the contract from a charterer’s to a shipowner’s bill.
Held: The specific . .
Cited – Borealis Ab v Stargas Limited and Others and Bergesen Dy A/S Berge Sisar Dorealis Ab v Stargas Limited and Others HL 27-Mar-2001
The ship came to port, and samples of the cargo proved contaminated. The carrier asserted that the consignee was to be deemed to have demanded delivery, and had so assumed the risk. The court found that the mere taking of samples was not such a . .
Cited – Precis (521) Plc v William M Mercer Ltd CA 15-Feb-2005
Purchasers of a company sought to claim in negligence against the respondent actuaries in respect of a valuation of the company’s pension funds.
Held: There was a paucity of authority as to when a duty of care was assumed. The words used and . .
Cited – Yearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust CA 4-Feb-2009
The defendant hospital had custody of sperm samples given by the claimants in the course of fertility treatment. The samples were effectively destroyed when the fridge malfunctioned. Each claimant was undergoing chemotherapy which would prevent them . .
Cited – D Pride and Partners (A Firm) and Others v Institute for Animal Health and Others QBD 31-Mar-2009
The claimants sought damages after the loss of business when the defendants’ premises were the source of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The organism had escaped from their premises via a broken drain.
Held: Much of the damage claimed . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Transport, Contract, Negligence
Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.180951