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   Case summaries      Holbeck Hall Hotel v Scarborough BC

Holbeck Hall Hotel Limited v Scarborough Borough Council [2000] 2 ALL ER 705 Court of Appeal

The claimants owned Holbeck Hall, a four star hotel situated on South Cliff in Scarborough. The defendant council owned the land between the hotel and the sea. A massive land slip took place on the cliff. The lawn of the hotel disappeared into the sea and the ground under the seaward wing of the hotel had collapsed. As a result the hotel became unsafe and had to be demolished. The claimants brought an action based on the principle in Goldman v Hargrave and Leakey v National Trust. The trial judge found for the claimant and the Council appealed.


Appeal allowed, the Council were not liable. In assessing the scope of the duty imposed under the principle in Leakey v National Trust the courts are to take into account the resources of the defendant.

Stuart Smith LJ:

“the law must take account of the fact that the occupier on whom the duty is cast has, ex hypothesi, had this hazard thrust upon him through no seeking or fault of his own. His interest, and his resources, whether physical or material, may be of a very modest character either in relation to the magnitude of the hazard, or as compared with those of his threatened neighbour. A rule which required of him in such unsought circumstances in his neighbour's interest a physical effort of which he is not capable, or an excessive expenditure of money, would be unenforceable or unjust.”
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