Port Swettenham Authority v T W Wu and Co (M) Sdn Bhd: PC 19 Jun 1978

A gratuitous bailee assumes a duty to take reasonable care of the chattel: ‘This standard, although high, may be a less exacting standard than that which the common law requires of a bailee for reward [but] the line between the two standards is a very fine line, difficult to discern and impossible to define.’
‘When, a bailee puts goods which have been bailed to him in the care of his servants for safe custody, there can be no doubt that the bailee is responsible if the goods are lost through any failure of those servants to take proper care of the goods . . Cheshire v Bailey [1905] 1 KB 237 laid down the startling proposition of law that a master who was under a duty to guard another’s goods was liable if the servant he sent to perform the duty for him performed it so negligently as to enable thieves to steal the goods, but was not liable if that servant joined with the thieves in the very theft. This proposition is clearly contrary to principle and common sense, and to the law: Morris v C W Martin and Sons Ltd [1966] 1 QB 716,740. Their Lordships agree with the decision in Morris v C W Martin and Sons Ltd and consider that Cheshire v Bailey mis-stated the common law.’
[1979] AC 580, [1978] UKPC 13, [1978] 3 WLR 530, [1979] 1 Lloyd’s Rep 11, [1978] 3 All ER 337
England and Wales
ApprovedMorris v C W Martin and Sons Ltd CA 1965
The plaintiff took her mink stole to the defendants for cleaning. An employee received and stole the fur. The judge had held that the defendants were not liable because the theft was not committed in the course of employment.
Held: The . .

Cited by:
CitedLister and Others v Hesley Hall Ltd HL 3-May-2001
A school board employed staff to manage a residential school for vulnerable children. The staff committed sexual abuse of the children. The school denied vicarious liability for the acts of the teachers.
Held: ‘Vicarious liability is legal . .
CitedYearworth 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 . .
CitedThakrar v The Secretary of State for Justice Misc 31-Dec-2015
County Court sitting at Milton Keynes. The claimant prisoner sought damages saying that his personal property had been damaged whilst in the care of the defendant.
Held: The claims succeeded in part. Some damage was deliberate. There was a . .
CitedArmes v Nottinghamshire County Council SC 18-Oct-2017
The claimant had been abused as a child by foster parents with whom she had been placed by the respondent authority. The court was now asked, the Council not having been negligent, were they in any event liable having a non-delegable duty of care . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 14 March 2021; Ref: scu.214666