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Herrington v British Railways Board [1972]

Facts

  • A trespasser, the claimant, was electrocuted by the defendant’s railway line
  • The trespasser entered the property through a fence which had been previously pushed down as a shortcut to a park
  • The defendant knew of the fence defect

Issue

  • Could the trespasser recover as they were injured on the property which the defendant had control over

Decision

  • Yes, claim successful

Reasoning

  • The House of Lords was entitled to overrule itself after the 1966 practice statement, therefore this case overruled R Addie & Sons v Dumbreck [1929].
  • A humanitarian attitude is expected towards trespassers, however there is only a requirement to take reasonable steps to allow a trespasser to avoid risks. The claimant was a 6 year old child.
  • The result would now be the same under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984.
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