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Hall v Brooklands Auto Racing Club [1933] 1 KB 205

Certain persons were the owners of a racing track for motor cars. The track was oval in shape and measured two
miles or more in circumference. It contained a long straight stretch known as the finishing straight, which was over
100 feet wide and was bounded on its outer side by a cement kerb 6 inches in height, beyond which was a strip of
grass 4 feet 5 inches in width enclosed within an iron railing 4 feet 6 inches high. Spectators were admitted on
payment to view the races, and stands were provided in which they could do this in safety, but many persons
preferred to stand along and outside the railing. Among the competing cars in a long distance race on this track two
cars were running along the finishing straight at a pace of over 100 miles an hour and were approaching a sharp
bend to the left; the car in front and more to the left turned to the right; the other car did the same, but in so doing
touched the off side of the first mentioned car, with the strange result that the first mentioned car shot into the air over
the kerb and the grass margin and into the railing, killing two spectators and injuring others. The course was opened
in 1907. No accident like this had ever happened before.

In an action by one of the injured spectators against the owners of the racing track the jury found that the defendants
were negligent in that having invited the public to witness a highly dangerous sport they had failed by notices or
otherwise to give warning of, or protection from, the dangers incident thereto, and to keep spectators at a safe
distance from the track. Judgment having been given for the plaintiff on these findings: -

Held, that it was the duty of the appellant s to see that the course was as free from danger as reasonable care and
skill could make it, but that they were not insurers against accidents which no reasonable diligence could foresee or
against dangers inherent in a sport which any reasonable spectator can foresee and of which he takes the risk, and
consequently that there was no, evidence to support the verdict of the jury.
Tort may be defined as the law of civil wrongs and its aim is to provide
recompense for damage caused by the act of another in circumstances in
which no other legal duty in respect of the damage exists. There are a whole
variety of torts, too many to list, but they can be found in any textbook.
In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation imposed on an individual
requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing
any acts that could foreseeably harm others
Basic Principles: There are 3 criteria:
Is there a duty of care owed?
Is there a breach of that duty?
Is there damage caused by that breach?
Give me an example of duty of care that you might owe in your everyday life?
It is difficult to set a standard of care and it has often been related to the man
on the Clapham omnibus.
What is the origin of the expression 'The man on the Clapham
THE MAN makes his debut in the decision of Lord Justice Greer in
the case of
Hall v Brooklands Auto-Racing Club. (1933) 1 KB 205.
He appears as that ubiquitous, and mythical, "reasonable man" in
order to set "reasonable" standards. In the case itself he is a
spectator at a motor racing event where a number of the watching
crowd are seriously injured when a car careers through the barrier. To
the question of whether the race organisers owed a duty of care to
the victims he is made to reply with a firm negative, since "he would
know quite well" that no barrier would provide protection from this
"possible but highly improbable" occurrence. Thus the reasonable
man denies any right of compensation.
Damage must be proven; direct or indirect harm, it is not necessary to show
The main problem in the law of tort is how far this liability should go and this
has received different answers at different times.
NWTF 2012 2
Anns v Merton L.B.C. [1978] AC 728
The plaintiffs were lessees and occupiers of flats built in the 1960s by a
private builder. The building began to suffer damage, such as cracks in the
walls due to movement of the foundations. The defendants were a Local
Authority; they had the power to inspect the foundations under local Bye
Laws, but had no duty to do so.
Held A statutory power and a duty could give rise to a duty of care. The
Wilberforce test of Duty of Care.
Murphy v Brentwood D.C. [1990] 3 WLR 414
The defendants local authority failed to inspect the foundations of a building
adequately, with the result that building became dangerously unstable. The
claimant, being unable to raise the money for repairs, had to sell that house
at a considerable loss, which he sought to recover from the local authority,
claiming they were negligent in passing the plans which were inadequate.
Held His action failed, thus bringing to an end the explosion in liability for
Pure Economic Loss experienced over the preceding 20 years. House of
Lords overturned the decision in Anns v Merton (too remote, house sold many
Clearly there are good arguments each side but which is to prevail is a matter
of policy either for the judges or for the state.
Who can be liable?
The Tortfeasor:- the person who commits the tort
Where 2 or more breaches of duty by different defendants cause the plaintiff
injury, the liability may be independent, several or joint.
Vicarious Liability this is the liability of a master for the acts of his servants
there must be a relationship of control such as employer employee
Bayley v Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Rail Co (1873) LR 8 CP
The plaintiff, a passenger on one of the defendants' trains, was violently
pulled from his carriage, just after the train had started, by one of the
defendants' porters, who believed that the plaintiff was on the wrong train.
The defendants' byelaws, of which the porter had a copy, provided that:
porters were not to remove passengers from wrong trains or carriages, but
by their rules, of which the porter also had a copy, porters were given a
general direction to do all in their power to promote the defendants' interests
and it was part of the porter's duty to prevent passengers from travelling by
the wrong trains, as far as they were able to do so.
Held - The defendants were liable to the plaintiff for the porter's act, because
there was evidence that he was acting within the authority given to him by the