Paris v Stepney Borough Council: HL 13 Dec 1950

(Reversed) The House considered a breach of a duty of care in respect of a man blinded in one eye, when there would be no breach of duty if his sight had not been impaired.
Held: The claim succeeded because he was known by his employers to have only one sound eye and they failed to provide him with appropriate goggles. The claim did not succeed on the basis that goggles should have been provided for anyone working in the same process as the plaintiff although still being rendered blind in one eye is a very serious injury even for a man with two sound eyes.
Lord Morton of Henryton said that the more serious the damage that would happen if an accident occurred, the more thorough were the precautions which an employer must take.
Lord Normand said: ‘If there is no proof that a precaution is usually observed by other persons, a reasonable and prudent man will follow the usual practice in the like circumstances. Failing such proof the test is whether the precaution is one which the reasonable and prudent man would think to obvious that it was folly to omit it.’ An employer must take into account any particular susceptibility of the employee of which he is or ought to be aware.


Lord Normand, Lord Simonds, Lord Morton of Henryton


[1951] 1 All ER 42, [1950] UKHL 3, [1951] AC 367, [1951] 1 TLR 25, (1951) 115 JP 22




England and Wales


Appeal fromParis v Stepney Borough Council CA 1949
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Cited by:

CitedWalker v Northumberland County Council QBD 16-Nov-1994
The plaintiff was a manager within the social services department. He suffered a mental breakdown in 1986, and had four months off work. His employers had refused to provide the increased support he requested. He had returned to work, but again, did . .
CitedIman Abouzaid v Mothercare (Uk) Ltd CA 21-Dec-2000
The defendant appealed a finding of liability under the Act. The plaintiff had hurt his eye assisting with a pushchair sold by the defendant. An elastic strap had rebounded into his eye. It was argued that the English Act went wider than the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 08 June 2022; Ref: scu.190055