Pitts v The Personal Representatives of Mark James Hunt (Deceased) and Another: CA 1990

The plaintiff and a friend had spent the evening drinking at a disco before setting off on the friend’s motorcycle. The plaintiff was aware that the motorcyclist was neither licensed to ride a motorcycle nor insured. During the journey, the plaintiff had encouraged the cyclist to ride in a fast, reckless and hazardous manner, with the purpose of frightening members of the public. This conduct eventually led to a collision with an oncoming car in which the plaintiff was severely injured.
Held: In the circumstances the plaintiff could not recover; he played a full and active part in encouraging the young rider to commit offences which, if a death other than that of the young rider himself had occurred, would have amounted to manslaughter by the commission of a dangerous act. The plaintiff was precluded on grounds of public policy from recovering compensation for the injuries which he sustained in the course of the very serious offences in which he was participating. The Courts have adopted a pragmatic approach and it was not desirable to attempt to categorise the degree of seriousness involved in offences which will preclude recovery of compensation.


Beldam LJ, Balcombe LJ


[1991] 1 QB 24, [1990] 3 All ER 344, [1990] EWCA Civ 17




England and Wales


Dictum DisapprovedAshton v Turner QBD 1981
The plaintiff sought damages after being injured as a passenger in a car. He and the driver had both just been involved in a burglary, and the driver, who had taken alcohol was attempting to escape. The driver was driving very dangerously in order . .
CitedSaunders v Edwards CA 24-Mar-1986
The parties had agreed for the sale and purchase of land and chattels, but had deliberately misdescribed the apportionment so as to reduce tax liability. The purchasers then brought an action for misrepresentation. The vendor replied that the action . .

Cited by:

CitedVellino v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police CA 31-Jul-2001
The police were not under any duty to protect someone who had been arrested from injuring himself in an attempt to escape. The claimant had a history of seeking to avoid capture by jumping from his flat window. On this occasion he injured himself in . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Road Traffic

Updated: 08 June 2022; Ref: scu.190063