Topp v London Country Bus

Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd [1993]

Case name & citation: Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd [1993] 1 WLR 976; [1993] EWCA Civ 15

Court and jurisdiction: Court of Appeal, England and Wales

Decided on: 29 January 1993

The bench of judges: Dillon and Rose L.JJ. and Peter Gibson J.

Area of law: Duty of care; negligence

What is the case about?

This is a UK tort law case concerning the duty of care to road users. It is one of the decisions which was arrived at using the simple test of reasonable foresight to determine whether or not a duty of care existed.

Facts of the case (Topp v London Country Bus Ltd)

The defendants did not lock the bus while it was parked and left the keys in the ignition. The driver who was supposed to pick up the bus did not show up for his shift. Joy-riders stole it and then crashed it into another vehicle (a bicycle), which unfortunately resulted in the death of the claimant’s wife. He then brought an action for damages against the defendant bus company.


Did the bus company owe a duty of care to the claimant? Was it liable to pay damages on account of a collision by unidentified joy-riders with his wife’s bicycle?

Judgment of the Court in Topp v London Country Bus (South West) Ltd

The Court determined that although it was unquestionably negligent for the bus to have been left with the keys in the ignition, the defendants owed no duty of care to the claimant to guard against the voluntary actions of third parties over whom the defendants had no control.

It was held that the claimant was unsuccessful because he was unable to establish that the defendants ought to have reasonably foreseen that a joyrider(s) would steal the bus which their employee left unattended in a lay-by and that it would run a woman off her bicycle.

This led to the claimant’s case being dismissed.

List of references:

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