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Paris v Stepney Borough Council (1950) BC [1951] HL


Tort, negligence, duty of care, reasonableness of precautions, special duty of care.



Act, Regulation or Reference:


Date: 1997


A Local Authority employed Mr Paris as a garage mechanic. Mr Paris had lost the sight of one eye during the war. In order to loosen a stiff bolt he struck it with a hammer; a piece of metal flew off and (because he was not wearing goggles) struck him in his good eye, causing him to become totally blind. After the accident, Mr Paris successfully claimed damages for his injury but this was overturned on appeal. Mr Paris then appealed to the House of Lords.

The Decision

The probability of such an event was very small, but its consequences were very serious, his employers, knowing of his disability, should have taken extra care to provide goggles for him. The more serious the possible damage, the greater the precautions that should be taken. Stepney Borough Council owed a special duty of care to P and had been negligent in failing to supply him with goggles, even though sufficient equipment was not given to other employees.

Held, Mr Paris won


Mr Paris worked in the Borough Council's trucks maintenance garage. He had been blinded in one eye during the war but had successfully managed to conceal this from his employers until he was examined by a doctor for the purposes of the Council's superannuation scheme. When it came to light that he was blind in one eye he was given two weeks notice of dismissal. The accident happened two days before he was due to leave.
Its worth remembering this is 1950's in terms of employment law