The defendant hospital had custody of sperm samples given by the claimants in the course of fertility treatment. The samples were effectively destroyed when the fridge malfunctioned. Each claimant was undergoing chemotherapy which would prevent them providing future samples. They appealed a finding that they they had no losses, based on the suggestion that the 1990 Act so circumscribed the management of the samples as to deny any assertion of a proprietary interest in the samples. They claimed psychological injury and losses.
Held: The appeal was allowed. The hospital owed the claimants a duty of care. The concept of ownership is no more than a convenient global description of different collections of rights held by persons over physical and other things. The men owned the specimens. The Act itself required expicit consent from the donors for various acts, and this itself acknowledged rights. Doodward was framed as an exception to the common law rule, and was not a good basis for the modern law. The common law needed re-examination.
The court considered and set out the law of bailment as it might apply to the case. The defendants were bailees.
Lord Judge CJ, Sir Anthony Clarke MR, Wilson LJ
 EWCA Civ 37, Times 10-Feb-2009,  WLR (D) 34, (2009) 107 BMLR 47,  LS Law Medical 126,  2 All ER 986,  3 WLR 118,  1 QB 1
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990
England and Wales
Cited – Walkin v South Manchester Health Authority CA 3-Jul-1995
A claim for damages for an unwanted pregnancy occurring after a failed sterilisation. The plaintiff claimed damages for her economic losses. She issued only four years after the birth.
Held: The limitation period ran from the date of . .
Cited – Leigh and Sillavan Ltd v Aliakmon Shipping Co Ltd (The Aliakmon) HL 24-Apr-1985
The plaintiff contracted to buy a cargo to be shipped on the defendant’s vessel. Because of poor stowage, the cargo was damaged. At the time of the damage the claimant was neither the owner nor possessor of the cargo, but under the terms of the . .
Cited – Williams v Williams 1882
By codicil to his will the deceased directed that his executors should give his body to Miss Williams; and by letter he requested her to cremate his body under a pile of wood, to place the ashes into a specified Wedgwood vase and to claim her . .
Cited – Airedale NHS Trust v Bland HL 4-Feb-1993
Procedures on Withdrawal of Life Support Treatment
The patient had been severely injured in the Hillsborough disaster, and had come to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). The doctors sought permission to withdraw medical treatment. The Official Solicitor appealed against an order of the Court . .
Cited – Dobson and Dobson v North Tyneside Health Authority and Newcastle Health Authority CA 26-Jun-1996
A post mortem had been carried out by the defendants. The claimants, her grandmother and child sought damages after it was discovered that not all body parts had been returned for burial, some being retained instead for medical research. They now . .
Cited – Doodeward v Spence 1908
(High Court of Australia) The police seized from an exhibitor the body of a two headed still born baby which had been preserved in a bottle.
Held: An order was made for its return: ‘If, then, there can, under some circumstances, be a continued . .
Cited – Regina v Kelly; Regina v Lindsay CACD 21-May-1998
Kelly was an artist allowed to draw anatomical specimens at the hospital, and Lindsay was a technician. They removed body parts from the hospital, and now appealed their convictions for theft.
Held: There is an exception to the traditional . .
Cited – Bentham, Regina v HL 10-Mar-2005
In the course of a theft, the defendant had held his fingers in his pocket so as to suggest that he had a gun. He appealed conviction for possessing an imitation firearm.
Held: ‘Rules of statutory construction have a valuable role when the . .
Cited – Gregg v Scott HL 27-Jan-2005
The patient saw his doctor and complained about a lump under his arm. The doctor failed to diagnose cancer. It was nine months before treatment was begun. The claimant sought damages for the reduction in his prospects of disease-free survival for . .
Cited – Coggs v Bernard 1703
The defendant had care of the plaintiff’s cask of brandy. He broke the cask and spilt the brandy.
Held: A bailment can exist notwithstanding that it is gratuitous, i.e. without consideration passing from the bailor to the bailee. The . .
Cited – Evans v Amicus Healthcare Ltd and others CA 25-Jun-2004
The applicant challenged the decision of the court that the sperm donor who had fertilised her eggs to create embryos stored by the respondent IVF clinic, could withdraw his consent to their continued storage or use.
Held: The judge worked . .
Cited – Regina v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ex parte DB CA 6-Feb-1997
At the applicant’s request samples of sperm were taken from her husband hours prior to his death, when he was in a coma.
Held: Sperm cannot lawfully be taken from a comatose man in order later to allow his surviving wife to be artificially . .
Cited – Midland Silicones Ltd v Scruttons Ltd QBD 1959
A bailment arises when, albeit on a limited or temporary basis, the bailee acquires exclusive possession of the chattel or a right thereto. . .
Cited – Midland Silicones Ltd v Scruttons Ltd CA 1960
Cited – Gilchrist Watt and Sanderson Pty Ltd v York Products Pty Ltd PC 1970
(New South Wales – Australia) The defendants were stevedores who had lost two cases of clocks that they had received as sub-bailees of the shipowners, who in turn owed a duty to deliver them to the plaintiffs under the bills of lading.
Held: . .
Cited – Midland Silicones Ltd v Scruttons Ltd HL 6-Dec-1961
The defendant stevedores, engaged by the carrier, negligently damaged a drum containing chemicals. When the cargo-owners sued in tort, the stevedores unsuccessfully attempted to rely on a limitation clause contained in the bill of lading between the . .
Cited – Port Swettenham Authority v T W Wu and Co (M) Sdn Bhd PC 19-Jun-1978
A gratuitous bailee assumes a duty to take reasonable care of the chattel: ‘This standard, although high, may be a less exacting standard than that which the common law requires of a bailee for reward [but] the line between the two standards is a . .
Cited – Johnston v NEI International Combustion Ltd; Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd; similar HL 17-Oct-2007
The claimant sought damages for the development of neural plaques, having been exposed to asbestos while working for the defendant. The presence of such plaques were symptomless, and would not themselves cause other asbestos related disease, but . .
Cited – Attia v British Gas CA 26-Jun-1987
The defendant set the plaintiff’s house on fire when installing central heating. She claimed damages for the shock she suffered on hearing of the fire.
Held: The plaintiff could recover damages for psychiatric injury she suffered when the . .
Cited – Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd CA 16-Oct-1972
The plaintiff had booked a holiday through the defendant travel tour company. He claimed damages after the holiday failed to live up to expectations.
Held: In appropriate cases where one party contracts to provide entertainment and enjoyment, . .
Cited – Farley v Skinner HL 11-Oct-2001
The claimant sought damages from the defendant surveyor. He had asked the defendant whether the house he was to buy was subject to aircraft noise. After re-assurance, he bought the house. The surveyor was wrong and negligent. A survey would not . .
Cited – Johnson v Unisys Ltd HL 23-Mar-2001
The claimant contended for a common law remedy covering the same ground as the statutory right available to him under the Employment Rights Act 1996 through the Employment Tribunal system.
Held: The statutory system for compensation for unfair . .
Cited – Watts and Co v Morrow CA 30-Jul-1991
The plaintiff had bought a house on the faith of the defendant’s report that there were only limited defects requiring repair. In fact the defects were much more extensive. The defendant surveyor appealed against an award of damages after his . .
Cited – Alcock and Others v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police HL 28-Nov-1991
The plaintiffs sought damages for nervous shock. They had watched on television, as their relatives and friends, 96 in all, died at a football match, for the safety of which the defendants were responsible. The defendant police service had not . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Health, Damages, Personal Injury, Agency
Updated: 09 November 2021; Ref: scu.280434