Smith v The London and South Western Railway Company: 1869

Negligence requires duty to injured

Workmen, employed by the defendant railway company to cut the grass and trim hedges bordering the railway, placed the trimmings in heaps near the line, and allowed them to remain there for fourteen days, during very hot weather in the month of August. Fire from a passing engine ignited one of these heaps, and burned the hedge, and was carried by a high wind across a stubblefield and a public road, and burned the plaintiff’s goods in a cottage about 200 yards away. The question was whether there was evidence of negligence to go before the jury. No one argued that the railway company was strictly liable.
Held: Bovill CJ said: ‘I agree that the mere circumstance of the fire being caused by an engine of the company, is not enough to give a cause of action against them; but the plaintiff must shew some breach of duty on their part which occasioned the injury he complains of.’
Bovill CJ
(1869-70) LR 5 CP 98
England and Wales
CitedVaughan v The Taff Vale Railway Company 20-Nov-1858
A wood adjoining the defendants’ railway was burnt by sparks from the locomotives. On several previous occasions it had been set on fire, and the Company had paid for the damage. Evidence was given that the defendants had done everything that was . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromSmith v The London and South Western Railway Company 1870
Blackburn J said: ‘I take it that, since the case of Vaughan v Taff Vale Ry Co, which was expressly affirmed in Brand v Hammersmith Ry Co, it is clear that when a railway company is authorized by their Act of parliament to run engines on their line, . .
CitedStannard (T/A Wyvern Tyres) v Gore CA 4-Oct-2012
The defendant, now appellant, ran a business involving the storage of tyres. The claimant neighbour’s own business next door was severely damaged in a fire of the tyres escaping onto his property. The court had found him liable in strict liability . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 June 2021; Ref: scu.512173