London Graving Dock Co Ltd v Horton: HL 1951

An experienced welder had for a month been carrying out work on a ship as an employee of sub-contractors engaged by ship-repairers in occupation of the ship. He was injured, without negligence on his part, owing to the inadequacy of certain staging, constituting an unusual danger, of which he had full knowledge and which, despite complaints, the ship-repairers had not remedied.
Held: (Majority) The welder being an invitee, his knowledge of the unusual risk exonerated the ship-repairers from liability for the damage sustained by him and that it was not essential to their defence to establish that he was volens in that he was not under any feeling of constraint in accepting the risk. Lord Porter summarised the facts in Donoghue v Stevenson, and said: ‘Your Lordships’ House held that, assuming the facts alleged to be true, the manufacturer would have escaped if it was natural to expect that the intermediate vendor would take care to see that the contents were in order. The pursuer, however, could recover from the manufacturer because such an examination was not to be expected. The law required the latter to be careful not to run the risk of injuring a person whom he contemplates or ought to contemplate as likely to be injured by his negligence, but an examination by the retail vendor, if rightly expected, could be relied upon by the manufacturer and would have been a complete answer to the claim. Still more so would knowledge by the purchaser of the true position, whether such knowledge was actual or such as the circumstances would warrant the manufacturer to assume. The defence did not have to show that the pursuer drank the contents with a full knowledge of the risk: it would have been enough if examination and consequent knowledge was to be expected. To that extent an argument based on Donoghue v Stevenson seems less forcible than the more obvious contention founded upon the relationship of invitor and invitee. Neither ground, in my opinion, supports the conclusion that the appellants were in breach of their duty of care.’

Lord Porter
[1951] AC 737
England and Wales
SummarisedDonoghue (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 . .

Cited by:
CitedMcTear v Imperial Tobacco Ltd OHCS 31-May-2005
The pursuer sought damages after her husband’s death from lung cancer. She said that the defenders were negligent in having continued to sell him cigarettes knowing that they would cause this.
Held: The action failed. The plaintiff had not . .
CitedRoles v Nathan CA 15-May-1963
Two chimney sweeps were overcome by fumes, and died in the basement of the Manchester Assembly Rooms. Whilst occupied working in flues (against advice), a boiler had been lit.
Held: (Majority – Pearson LJ dissenting) The land-owner’s appeal . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 16 January 2022; Ref: scu.226706