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Knightley v Johns & Ors [1982] 1 WLR 349 Court of Appeal

As a result of Mr John's negligent driving his car overturned in a tunnel. Two police officers on motorcycles arrived at the scene. The senior officer instructed them both to ride their motorcycles to the other side of the tunnel and close the entrance to the tunnel as he had forgotten to close it earlier. They took the decision of driving on through the tunnel on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend rather than going the long way round. Unfortunately one of the officers, Mr Knightly, was involved in a head on collision with an oncoming vehicle driven by Mr Cotton and sustained serious injuries. He brought an action against Mr Cotton, Mr John, the senior officer and the Chief Constable of West Midlands. The main contentious point was whether Mr. John remained liable or whether the actions of the other defendant's and the claimant amounted to a novus actus interveniens.


The senior officer's instructions and failure to close the entrance to the tunnel were negligent and broke the chain of causation. The claimant's decision in going through the tunnel was not negligent. Thus the claimant was entitled to full damages from the senior officer and Mr John was not liable.
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