Hilder v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd [1961]

Case name & citation: Hilder v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd [1961] 1 WLR 1434

Jurisdiction: England and Wales

Year of the case: 1961

Area of law: Negligence; the likelihood of harm

What is the case about?

Hilder v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers is a UK tort law case on negligence. It throws light on the duty of care to be exercised based on the degree of risk involved in a situation.

Facts of the case (Hilder v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers)

The plaintiff was riding his motorbike along a road when he was struck by a football that was kicked from the adjacent land of the defendant, where children were in the habit of playing. The open piece of land had a low boundary wall. As a result of this collision, the plaintiff crashed and sustained injuries. He died. His widow brought an action against the landowners.

Issue

Was the defendant liable for negligence?

Judgment of the Court in Hilder v Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers

The Court concluded that there had been negligence. The defendant had to bear damages.

The Court found the defendant to be negligent for failing to take precautions to prevent footballs from being kicked onto the road because, given the circumstances, there was a significant likelihood that passers-by would sustain injuries as a result of such accidents.

The likelihood of harm in negligence cases

In general, the courts may usually take into account what is sometimes referred to as the ‘risk factor’ when determining what a reasonable person would have done in a given set of circumstances and when determining the standard of care that is expected of the defendant. The greater the likelihood that the defendant’s conduct will cause harm, the greater the precaution he is required to exercise. In other words, the degree of care is somewhat proportional to the degree of risk involved.

Therefore, it is reasonable for a person to assess the risks involved in a particular situation and to determine what precautions are necessary to avoid injury, bearing in mind the severity and likelihood of harm.

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