Your Cart

Yachuk v Oliver Blais Co Ltd [1949]

Yachuk v Oliver Blais Co Ltd [1949] AC 386 revolved around the attribution of injuries suffered by a nine-year-old boy solely to the negligence of the respondent's employee and whether there was contributory negligence on the part of the child.

The claimant, a nine-year-old boy, sought gasoline from the respondent's gasoline station for a purpose other than what he stated, resulting in severe burns when the gasoline caught fire. The central question was whether the injuries could be solely attributed to the negligence of the respondent's employee or if there was contributory negligence on the part of the child.

The Privy Council, in allowing the appeal, held that the injuries suffered by the claimant should be attributed solely to the negligence of the respondent's employee. Lord Du Parcq emphasised that the respondent had acted negligently by providing a dangerous substance to a small boy, foreseeing the likelihood of the child injuring himself. The fact that the child had deceived the employee did not absolve the respondent of negligence. Lord Denman's principle in Lynch v Nurdin was invoked, asserting that the negligence of the respondent's servant in tempting the child precluded reproaching the child for yielding to that temptation.

Regarding contributory negligence, the judgment emphasised that the child's actions should be assessed based on the knowledge expected of a normal child of his age. It was concluded that the claimant did not possess greater knowledge of gasoline properties than an average child, and thus, no failure to take reasonable care for his own safety could be imputed to him. Therefore, on the facts, there was no contributory negligence on the part of the appellant.

This judgment aligns with the traditional English approach to contributory negligence involving children, emphasising that a child should only be found guilty of contributory negligence if they are of an age where precautions for their safety are expected, and blame can be attached to them. The case reinforces the principle that, in situations involving children, the responsibility lies primarily with the adults or entities who have acted negligently, and the child's actions are to be considered in light of their age and expected level of understanding.

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 


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.


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.