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Barret v Ministry of Defence [1995] 1 WLR 1217

Facts: A man got very drunk at a Navy base and was moved to a separate room and left there. He choke on his vomit and died. The wife of the man sued

Held: The Ministry of Defence did not owe him a duty to stop him getting drunk, but did owe him a duty when they saw him collapse and moved him (as they assumed responsibility). If they had not seen him and did not try to help, that would have been omission and there would have been no liability

Capital and Counties PLC v Hampshire County Council [1997] 3 WLR 331

Facts: There were three conjoined appeals against the emergency fire service. In two of the appeals it was held the fire service owed no duty of care → this was due to policy reasons.

Held: However, they were liable in the first appeal → a fire broke out in a building owned by the claimant. The fire brigade turned off the sprinkler system, which caused the fire to worsen. This was someothing the should not have done so they were liable

Carty v Croydon London Borough Council [2005] EWCA Civ 19

Facts: The claimant, who had special education needs, alleged that the the defendant (Education authority) had been in breach of its duty of care in failing to provide him with appropriate education

Held: The court of appeal held that the educational authoirty can be liable here

Clark Fixing Ltd v Dudley Metropolitan BC [2001] EWCA Civ 1898

Facts: This case is simplet to Smith v Littlewoods, so contrast the two. In this case, known trespassers were on a vacant development site. They started a fire and damaged the neighbouring properties.

Held: The court held that the defendant should have removed the combustible material from the site, so they were liable.

The difference between this case and Smith v Littlewoods, was that in Smith they did not know the trespassers were on the site, whereas in Clark Fixing they knew people were going on site and there was combustible material.

Fowles v Bedfordshire CC [1995] ELR 51

Facts: A gym instructor povided inadquate instruction on how to use gym equipment

Held: The court held this was a sufficient relationship for the gym instructor to be liable

Gorringe v Calderdale [2004] UKHL 15

Facts: There was a steep hill and the claimant couldn't see over it and subsequently crashed. The claimant argued that the Local Authority had a responsibility to warn it was a dangerous hill (i.e. put a ‘Slow’ sign).

Held: There is no requirement to put a sign there, so the Local Authority was held to be liable for their omission

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Haynes v Harwood [1935] 1 KB 146

Facts: The defendant left a horse unattended in the street. A boy thre a stone at the horse, causing it to bold. The claimant was injured trying to save other people who were being injured.

Held: The defendant was liable because he should have known there was a high chance the horses could bolt and he had created the danger

Kent v Griffith [2001] 2 WLR 1158

Facts: The claimant was having an asthma attack. The ambulance took half an hour to arrive. The claimant suffered respiratory arrest

Held: The court held it was ‘reasonably foreseeable’ that the claimant would suffer further illness if an ambulance did not arrive promptly, and furthermore it was held there was sufficient proximity between the claimant and the defendant once the ambulance accepted the call and dispatched an ambulance. So the defendant was liable

Mitchell v Glasgow City Council [2009]

Facts: A violent neighbour threatened their neighbour. The council decided to move the violent neighbour. When the violent neighbour found out he was being moved he attacked the neighbour

Held: The council was held not to be liable. There is no duty owed to protect tenants from violent assaults by their neighbours

O.L.L. Ltd v Secretary of State for Transport [1997] 3 All E.R. 897

Facts: The coastguard for lost and asked for directions. The directions were not given very well so did not do a good rescue

Held: It was held that they were NOT liable as they did no make the sitation any worse; the people they were trying to save were in peril anyway

Smith v Littlewoods Organisation Ltd [1987] AC 241

Facts: There was a disused cinema which people went into and vandalised and started small fires. One day, they started a big fire that destroyed the neighbouring building. As they could not sue the children, the claimant sued the owner of the building which was being vandalised (i.e. Littlewoods).

Held: It was held that Littlewoods were not liable because they did not know their land was being misused. This shows, at this time, the court did not like omission actions - so the bar was set pretty high.

Lord Goff: "Why does the law not recognise a general duty of care to prevent others from suffering loss or damage caused by the deliberate wrongdoing of third parties? The fundamental reason is that the common law does not impose liability for what are called pure omissions"

Compare this case with Clark Fixing Ltd v Dudley Metropolitan BC [2001]

Stovin v Wise [1996] 3 WLR 389

Facts: There was a big heap of rubble on someone’s land which made it hard to see the road. A public body knew about this problem. A driver later came around the corner and had an accident. Was the public body responsible?

Held: It was held that although the public body had the power to act (i.e. they could have removed the rubble), they did not have the duty to act. So there was no negligence here.

“In economic terms, the efficient allocation of resources usually requires an activity should bear its own costs… there is no…justification for requiring a person who is not doing anything to spend money on behalf of someone else” (Lord Hoffmann) → this is similar to the police in terms of allocation of resources and responsibility

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