Tidman v Reading Borough Council: QBD 4 Nov 1994

The plaintiff wanted to sell his land. The purchaser wished to know the planning status and prospects for the land. The local authority published a leaflet encouraging those interested to seek guidance from the authority’s planning officers. The plaintiff did so, but the advice received was negligently incorrect.
Held: Thee informal planning advice given by a Local Authority officer, was not given under a duty of care, and the action failed. The rule in Hedley Byrne did not apply to this situation. The court should exercise care before allowing such a responsibility in such a case. An authority acted under a statutory duty to apply planning law, and to act for the general public interests. A duty in negligence could conflict with those public duties. The plaintiff had sought advice only over the telephone and provided very limited information. It could not be thought that by responding to such an enquiry the authority became liable in negligence. If it did, te result would be that they would give no such assistance in future. The council was also enttled to expect that a person to whom such a question was important would seek their own proper advice. A duty of care might posibly arise where the approach was more formal and detailed, and where e matter might have very serious consequences. The present case came nowhere near creating such a duty.


Buckley J


Times 10-Nov-1994, [1994] 3 PLR 72


England and Wales


CitedHedley Byrne and Co Ltd v Heller and Partners Ltd HL 28-May-1963
Banker’s Liability for Negligent Reference
The appellants were advertising agents. They were liable themselves for advertising space taken for a client, and had sought a financial reference from the defendant bankers to the client. The reference was negligent, but the bankers denied any . .

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Lam and Others (T/a ‘Namesakes of Torbay’) and Borough of Torbay CA 30-Jul-1997
The claimant sought damages after the planning authority allowed the first defendant to conduct a manufacturing business in the course of which spraying activities took place which caused them personal injuries and loss of business.
Held: The . .
CitedWelton, Welton v North Cornwall District Council CA 17-Jul-1996
The defendant authority appealed a finding that it was liable in negligence from the conduct of one of its environmental health officers. The plaintiff had set out to refurbish and open a restaurant. He said the officer gave him a list of things he . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Professional Negligence, Local Government

Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.89898