Young v The Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd: CA 28 Jul 1944

Court of Appeal must follow Own Decisions

The claimant was injured and received compensation. He then sought to recover again, alleging breach of statutory duty by his employers.
Held: The Court of Appeal was in general bound to follow its own previous decisions. The court considered the circumstances in which it could depart from a previous decision of the same court, on the basis that the decision had been reached per incuriam because an applicable statute or rule had not been referred to.
Lord Greene MR said: ‘In considering the question whether or not this court is bound by its previous decisions and those of courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction, it is necessary to distinguish four classes of case. The first is that with which we are now concerned, namely, cases where this court finds itself confronted with one or more decisions of its own or of a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction which cover the question before it and there is no conflicting decision of this court or of a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction. The second is where there is such a conflicting decision. The third is where this court comes to the conclusion that a previous decision, although not expressly overruled, cannot stand with a subsequent decision of the House of Lords. The fourth (a special case) is where this court comes to the conclusion that a previous decision was given per incuriam. In the second and third classes of case it is beyond question that the previous decision is open to examination. In the second class, the court is unquestionably entitled to choose between the two conflicting decisions. In the third class of case the court is merely giving effect to what it considers to have been a decision of the House of Lords by which it is bound. The fourth class requires more detailed examination and we will refer to it again later in this judgment.’
Lord Greene MR: ‘Where the court has construed a statute or a rule having the force of a statute its decision stands on the same footing as any other decision on a question of law, but where the court is satisfied that an earlier decision was given in ignorance of the terms of a statute or a rule having the force of a statute the position is very different. It cannot, in our opinion, be right to say that in such a case the court is entitled to disregard the statutory provision and is bound to follow a decision of its own given when that provision was not present to its mind. Cases of this description are examples of decisions given per incuriam. We do not think that it would be right to say that there may not be other cases of decisions given per incuriam in which this court might properly consider itself entitled not to follow an earlier decision of its own. Such cases would obviously be of the rarest occurrence and must be dealt with in accordance with their special facts.’

Lord Greene MR, Scott, MacKinnon, Luxmoore, Goddard and du Parcq LJJ
[1944] KB 718, 60 TLR 536, [1944] 2 All ER 293, (1945) 78 Ll L Rep 6, [1944] EWCA Civ 1
Hamlyn, Bailii, Bailii
England and Wales
Cited by:
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CitedCassell and Co Ltd v Broome and Another HL 23-Feb-1972
Exemplary Damages Award in Defamation
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CitedSimpson v Regina CACD 23-May-2003
The appellant challenged a confiscation order made on his conviction of VAT fraud. It was argued that one could not be made unless a proper notice had been given, and none of the offences occurred before 1995. On the assumption that section 1 of the . .
CitedRegina v Gould CACD 1968
Diplock LJ said: ‘In its criminal jurisdiction, which it has inherited from the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Court of Appeal does not apply the doctrine of stare decisis with the same rigidity as in its civil jurisdiction. If upon due consideration . .
CitedFerrishurst Ltd v Wallcite Ltd CA 30-Nov-1998
A person in actual occupation of registered land at time of transfer can enforce his rights against the transferee. A sub-underlessee in occupation of part could enforce an option to purchase against the freeholder acquiring intermediate registered . .
AffirmedDavis v Johnson HL 2-Jan-1978
The court was asked to interpret the 1976 Act to see whether its protection extended to cohabitees as well as to wives. In doing so it had to look at practice in the Court of Appeal in having to follow precedent.
Held: The operation of the . .
CitedSorrell v Sorrell FD 29-Jul-2005
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AppliedWilson v Chatterton CA 1946
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CitedDepartment for Transport, Environment and the Regions v Mott Macdonald Ltd and others CA 27-Jul-2006
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CitedSmith v Leicestershire Health Authority CA 29-Jan-1998
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CitedTan and Another v Sitkowski CA 1-Feb-2007
The tenant claimed Rent Act protection for his tenancy. He had been rehoused and began his tenancy in 1970 with the ground floor used as a shop, and the first floor as living accomodation. He later abandoned the business use. He appealed a finding . .
CitedSymbian Ltd v Comptroller General of Patents CA 8-Oct-2008
No Pattern Established to Patent Computer Systems
The Comptroller appealed against the decision in Chancery to grant a patent to the clamant for an invention which the comptroller said should have been excluded from protection under section 1(2) as a computer program. It was argued that the UK was . .
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The 1987 Regulations provided additional benefits for disabled persons, but excluded from benefit those who had nowhere to sleep. The claimant said this was irrational. He had been receiving the disability premium to his benefits, but this was . .
CitedSingh v The Members of The Management Committe of The Bristol Sikh Temple and Others EAT 14-Feb-2012
The issue was whether the Priest at a Sikh Temple was a ‘worker’ within section 54(3)(b) of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. . .
CitedKing, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice CA 27-Mar-2012
In each case the prisoners challenged their transfer to cellular confinement or segregation within prison or YOI, saying that the transfers infringed their rights under Article 6, saying that domestic law, either in itself or in conjunction with . .
CitedWalsall Metropolitan Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government CA 6-Feb-2013
The Council sought permission to appeal against the setting aside of two enforcement notices, leave having been refused by the Administrative court. The court now considered whether it had jusridiction, and whether the rule in Lane v Esdaile was to . .
CitedBaxendale Ltd and Another v Revenue and Customs FTTTx 4-Jul-2013
FTTTx PROCEDURE – striking out of proceedings – whether appellants’ case had a reasonable prospect of succeeding – abuse of process – whether Court of Appeal decision in David Baxendale was per incuriam or . .
CitedMorelle Ltd v Wakeling CA 1955
The plaintiff asserted ownership of leasehold land. A similar situation had arisen in an earlier case befoe the Court of appeal, and the court was asked to decide that that case had been decided per incuriam.
Held: The per incuriam principle . .
CitedHenderson v Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust CA 3-Aug-2018
Upon the allegedly negligent release of the claimant from mental health care, she had, while in the midst of a serious psychotic episode, derived from the schizophrenia, killed her mother and been convicted of manslaughter. She now sought damages in . .
CitedWillers v Joyce and Another (Re: Gubay (Deceased) No 2) SC 20-Jul-2016
The Court was asked whether and in what circumstances a lower court may follow a decision of the Privy Council which has reached a different conclusion from that of the House of Lords (or the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal) on an earlier occasion. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.179844