Smith v Leech Brain and Co Ltd: CA 1962

The reasoning in The Wagon Mound did not affect the rule that a tortfeasor takes his victim as he finds him.
Lord Parker CJ said: ‘The test is not whether these employers could reasonably have foreseen that a burn would cause cancer and that [the victim] would die. The question is whether these employers could reasonably foresee the type of injury he suffered, namely, the burn. What, in the particular case, is the amount of damage which he suffers as a result of that burn, depends upon the characteristics and constitution of the victim.’


Lord Parker LCJ


[1962] 2 QB 405


England and Wales


ConsideredOverseas 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 . .

Cited by:

ConfirmedMcKillen v Barclay Curle and Co Ltd 1967
The Lord Ordinary had awarded the pursuer damages for tuberculosis, on the basis that in the accident he had fractured a rib and this had reactivated his pre-existing tuberculosis.
Held: The pursuer had failed to prove the causal connexion . .
CitedSimmons v British Steel plc HL 29-Apr-2004
The claimant was injured at work as a consequence of the defender’s negligence. His injuries became more severe, and he came to suffer a disabling depression.
Held: the Inner House had been wrong to characterise the Outer House decision as . .
CitedCorr v IBC Vehicles Ltd HL 27-Feb-2008
The claimant’s husband had committed suicide. She sought damages for financial loss from his former employers under the 1976 Act. He had suffered a severe and debilitating injury working for them leading to his depression and suicide. The employers . .
CitedGates v Mckenna QBD 14-Aug-1998
The plaintiff suffered schizophrenia after taking part in an on-stage hypnosis performance by the defendant.
Held: The claim failed: ‘it is highly improbable that the onset of the plaintiff’s schizophrenia had anything to do with his . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Negligence, Damages

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.196526