Weller v Foot and Mouth Disease Research Institute: 1966

The plaintiff auctioneers sought damages in negligence from the defendants in having failed to prevent an outbreak of foot and mouth disease which led to damage to their business.
Held: Widgery J said: ‘Mr. Eveleigh says that, since the defendants should have foreseen the damage to his clients but nevertheless failed to take proper precaution against the escape of the virus, their liability is established. It may be observed that if this argument is sound, the defendants’ liability is likely to extend far beyond the loss suffered by the auctioneers, for in an agricultural community the escape of foot and mouth disease virus is a tragedy which can foreseeably affect almost all businesses in that area. The affected beasts must be slaughtered, as must others to whom the disease may conceivably have spread. Other farmers are prohibited from moving their cattle and may be unable to bring them to market at the most profitable time; transport contractors who make their living by the transport of animals are out of work; dairymen may go short of milk, and sellers of cattle feed suffer loss of business. The magnitude of these consequences must not be allowed to deprive the plaintiffs of their rights, but it emphasises the importance of this case.’


Widgery J


[1966] 1 QB 56


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedD Pride and Partners (A Firm) and Others v Institute for Animal Health and Others QBD 31-Mar-2009
The claimants sought damages after the loss of business when the defendants’ premises were the source of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The organism had escaped from their premises via a broken drain.
Held: Much of the damage claimed . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 07 May 2022; Ref: scu.328040