Your Cart

Jolley v Sutton London Borough Council [2000]

Jolley v Sutton London Borough Council [2000] 1 WLR 1082 is a significant case that delves into the foreseeability of harm in negligence claims, particularly when the claimant is a child. The central issue revolved around the duty of care owed by the Council regarding an abandoned boat on their property. The case explored the foreseeability of harm and the extent to which the defendant could be held liable for the injury suffered by the claimant.


The Council neglected to take action to remove an old, abandoned boat on its land. Two teenagers, including the claimant, undertook the repair of the boat, employing a car jack to prop it up. The incident occurred when the boat wobbled, causing it to topple from the car jack, resulting in the claimant sustaining a broken back and paraplegia. Subsequently, the claimant sought damages under Section 2(2) of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, alleging a breach of the defendant’s duty of care.


Initially, the High Court ruled in favour of the claimant, asserting that it was reasonably foreseeable that children would meddle with the boat and suffer injury as a consequence. However, the Court of Appeal adopted a more restrictive stance, acknowledging the duty to remove the boat due to the foreseeable risk of injury but contending that it was not reasonably foreseeable that children would prop up the boat for repairs and consequently suffer harm.


The House of Lords, upon hearing the appeal, ultimately sided with the claimant, finding the defendant liable for the accident and resulting injury due to foreseeability. In this decision, two key perspectives emerged from Lords Steyn and Hoffmann. Lord Steyn emphasised that foreseeability should be evaluated by closely examining the specific circumstances of each case. He suggested that The Wagon Mound (No 1) [1961] does not mandate that both the precise manner of injury causation and the extent of injury must always be reasonably foreseeable.


Lord Hoffmann added valuable insights, highlighting the general trend in cases involving children. He noted that when a defendant's negligence is established, and the defendant could have taken measures to avert the injury, the defendant is likely to be held liable. Lord Hoffmann underscored the importance of recognising children's ingenuity in finding unexpected ways to cause mischief, emphasising that this factor should not be underestimated in determining foreseeability.


In conclusion, Jolley v Sutton LBC reaffirms the principles set out in prior cases, particularly Hughes v Lord Advocate [1963], and underscores the significance of context-specific evaluations of foreseeability. The case establishes that a duty of care may extend to the materialisation of relatively small risks, especially when the claimant is a child, and their inventive behaviour is taken into consideration.


Check out our exam-focused Tort Law notes now.


Subscribe to UOL Case Bank for more exclusive content and case summaries.

Trusted by thousands of law students worldwide

Where are our students from?

Yale University

Council of Europe

Baker Mckenzie 

University of Chicago

Columbia University

New York University

University of Michigan 

INSEAD

University College London (UCL)

London School of Economics (LSE)

King’s College London (KCL)

University of London

University of Manchester

University of Zurich

University of York

Brandeis University

University of Exeter

University of Sheffield

Boston University

University of Washington

University of Leeds

University of Law

Royal Holloway, University of London 

Birkbeck, University of London

SOAS, University of London

University of Kent

University of Hull

Queen’s University Belfast

Toronto Metropolitan University

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

University of Buckingham

Your perfect companion for open-book and closed-book exams

Diagrams and Charts

Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

Clear and Succinct Definitions

Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

Statutory Provisions

Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

Case Summaries

We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

Rules and Exceptions

Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

Terminology

Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

Case Law

Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

Law Essay Guide

You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

Problem Question Guide

We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

Structured Explanations

Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

Legal Research

You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

Exam-focused

All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.