Phipps v Rochester Corporation: QBD 1955

A 12 year old child claimed damages having been injured trespassing on the defendant’s premises. He had fallen into a trench on the construction site.
Held: An occupier who resigns himself to the occasional and perhaps inevitable presence of trespassers on his premises is not to be regarded as having assumed the obligations of a licensor. The court, looking at occupier’s liability to trespassing children, noted the difference between big children and little children, that is ‘children who know what they are about and children who do not’.
Devlin J stated: ‘But the responsibility for the safety of little children must rest primarily on the parents; it is their duty to see that such children are not allowed to wander about by themselves, or, at the least, to satisfy themselves that the places to which they do allow their children to go unaccompanied are safe for them to go to. It would not be socially desirable if parents were, as a matter of course, able to shift the burden of looking after their children from their own shoulders to those of persons who happen to have accessible bits of land. Different considerations may well apply to public parks or to recognised playing grounds where parents allow the children to go and accompanied in the reasonable belief that they are safe.’

Devlin J
[1955] 1 All ER 129
England and Wales

Personal Injury, Land, Torts – Other, Children

Updated: 08 January 2022; Ref: scu.190059