Regina v London Borough of Sutton, ex parte Jolley: CA 19 Jun 1998

The plaintiff, a boy, was injured when playing on a derelict boat left on council land. The council appealed an award of damages against it.
Held: A local authority may be liable for injury caused by a derelict boat not removed from their land which attracted children, but not for an injury arising from unforeseeable later dealings with that boat. Lord Woolf MR: ‘Even making full allowance for the unpredictability of children’s behaviour, I am driven to conclude that it was not reasonably foreseeable that an accident could occur as a result of the boys deciding to work under a propped up boat. Nor could any reasonably similar accident have been foreseen. Ironically the state of the boat was so poor that it made it less likely that it would be repairable or that boys would embark on doing the necessary repairs. The photographs of the boat and the evidence of Mr. Hall indicate that it was a fairly heavy structure. It would be by no means easy for the boat to be moved or raised. In deciding whether the accident was foreseeable it is important not only to consider the precise accident which occurred but the class of accident.’
Roch LJ: ‘If a result of its unsafe condition a child had been injured while doing so the subsequent claim for damages would have succeeded. Whether it would have succeeded on the basis of an injury resulting from the mere presence of the boat – as opposed to its unsafe condition – is a separate question which does not arise for decision.’


Lord Woolf MR, Roch LJ


Gazette 15-Jul-1998, Times 23-Jun-1998, [1998] EWCA Civ 1049, [1998] 1 WLR 1546, [1998] PIQR P377, [1998] 3 All ER 559




Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 2(2)


England and Wales


Appeal fromJolley v Sutton London Borough Council QBD 1998
The claimant, a boy was injured when playing around a boat abandoned on land owned by the defendant. He had propped it up to attempt a repair, and was crushed when it fell on him. He said that in not removing the boat they had been negligent.
CitedOverseas Tankship (UK) Ltd v Morts Dock and Engineering Co Ltd (The Wagon Mound No 1) PC 18-Jan-1961
Foreseeability Standard to Establish Negligence
Complaint was made that oil had been discharged into Sydney Harbour causing damage. The court differentiated damage by fire from other types of physical damage to property for the purposes of liability in tort, saying ‘We have come back to the plain . .
CitedHughes v Lord Advocate HL 21-Feb-1963
The defendants had left a manhole uncovered and protected only by a tent and paraffin lamp. A child climbed down the hole. When he came out he kicked over one of the lamps. It fell into the hole and caused an explosion. The child was burned. The . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromJolley v Sutton London Borough Council HL 24-May-2000
An abandoned boat had been left on its land and not removed by the council. Children tried to repair it, jacked it up, and a child was injured when it fell. It was argued for the boy, who now appealed dismissal of his claim by the Court of Appeal, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Negligence

Updated: 19 November 2022; Ref: scu.144528