Your Cart

McGhee v National Coal Board | Tort Law

McGhee v National Coal Board [1972] UKHL 7 is a landmark case in the law of negligence. The House of Lords held that where a breach of duty has a material effect on the likelihood of injury then the subsequent injury will be said to have been caused by the breach. 

Mr. McGhee worked for the National Coal Board (NCB) and contracted dermatitis as a result of his work. He alleged that his employer was negligent in failing to provide him with adequate washing facilities to remove the harmful substances, which caused his skin condition.

The case was significant because it established the "material contribution" test for causation in cases of negligence. The House of Lords held that the NCB was liable for Mr. McGhee's injury because their negligence had materially contributed to the risk of injury. The test states that where the defendant's negligence materially contributes to the risk of injury, the defendant is liable for the damage caused.

The decision in McGhee v NCB has had a significant impact on the law of negligence, particularly in cases where it is difficult to prove exactly how the injury was caused. It has been followed and developed in subsequent cases and is now a fundamental principle of tort law.

You can learn more about this topic and other case law with our Tort Law notes.

Featured Collection

UOLLB Features

UOLLB First Class Law Notes

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.


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.


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