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Smith v Littlewoods

[1987] AC 241

Case summary last updated at 18/01/2020 19:52 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Smith v Littlewoods

 R bought a building that he intended to demolish. Some children got in several times and eventually started a fire that caused damage to P’s adjoining property. P said that since R had failed to provide security for the building, it was P’s negligence that caused the damage to the adjoining property. HL said R was not liable since it was not “reasonable” to foresee an empty building as a fire hazard and R had no known of the children’s previous attempts to set fire to the building. Therefore there could not be no duty of care was owed. NB Anns still in effect in 1987 and therefore “proximity” was being judged mainly by whether the damage to P should have been “reasonably foreseeable” to R.
 
Lord Goff: There are special circumstances where R can be liable for the acts of 3rd parties: Where there is either a special relationship between R and the third party OR between R and the victim. 

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