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   Case summaries      Addie v Dumbreck

Addie v Dumbreck [1929] AC 358 House of Lords

The defendant owned View Park Colliery which was situated in a field adjacent to a road. There was a fence around the perimeter of the field although there were large gaps in the fence. The field was frequently used as a short cut to a railway station and children would use it as a playground. The defendant would often warn people off the land but the attempts were not effective and no real attempt was made to ensure that people did not come onto the land. A child came on to the land and was killed when he climbed onto a piece of haulage apparatus.


No duty of care was owed to trespassers to ensure that they were safe when coming onto the land. The only duty was not to inflict harm wilfully.

Viscount Dunedin:

"In the present case, had the child been a licensee, I would have held the defenders liable; secus if the complainer had been an adult. But, if the person is a trespasser, then the only duty the proprietor has towards him is not maliciously to injure him; he may not shoot him; he may not set a spring gun, for that is just to arrange to shoot him without personally firing the shot. Other illustrations of what he may not do might be found, but they all come under the same head—injury either directly malicious or an acting so reckless as to be tantamount to malicious acting."
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