Condon v Basi

A Case Summary of Condon v Basi [1985]

Case name & citation: Condon v Basi [1985] 1 W.L.R. 866; [1985] EWCA Civ 12

Court and jurisdiction: Court of Appeal, England and Wales

Decided on: 30 April 1985

The bench of judges: Sir John Donaldson M.R., Stephen Brown L.J., Glidewell J.

Area of law: Duty of care; negligence

What is the case about?

Condon v Basi [1985] is a tort law case that concerns the standard of care to be exercised by sports persons. It says that those participating in competitive sports owed a duty of care to their fellow competitors, not to cause injury or harm to them.

Facts of the case (Condon v Basi)

In this case, the plaintiff sustained a broken leg when the defendant tackled him during a football match in an English local league.

The defendant made a slide tackle on the plaintiff well into the second half of the game, which is when the plaintiff suffered his injury. The slide started about 3.5 metres away from the plaintiff, it was “late” (the plaintiff had already kicked the ball away), and it was made with the boot studs showing; the defendant’s foot was about a quarter of a metre above the ground when it happened.

According to the referee, the tackle was both “reckless and dangerous” and constituted “serious foul play.” He removed the defendant from the field of play, which was the harshest punishment that could have been given while the game was in progress.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit accusing the defendant of negligence, claiming damages, and he was successful at the trial. The appeal that the defendant filed with the Court of Appeal was turned down.


The standard of care that is expected of a football player was the issue that the court needed to determine. And whether the defendant was liable for damages.

Judgment of the Court in Condon v Basi

The trial judge ruled that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care and that the defendant’s behaviour amounted to “serious and dangerous foul play which showed a reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s safety and which fell far below the standards which might reasonably be expected in anyone pursuing the game.” As a result of this ruling, the trial judge allowed the plaintiff’s claim.

At the Court of Appeal, Sir John Donaldson M.R. (with whom Stephen Brown L.J. and Glidewell J. agreed) found that the conclusions reached by the trial judge were accurate and that, as a matter of law, it could not be said that the defendant was not negligent.

Thus, the defendant was held liable.

The Court of Appeal held that the duty was to exercise such a level of care that was commensurate with the gravity of the circumstances, taking into account all of the relevant factors. The Court made the observation that the standard of care is objective, but dependent upon the circumstances; as a result, there will be a higher degree of care expected of a player participating in a first division football match than there will be for a player participating in a local league match.

List of references:

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