Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co Ltd [1970] : Case Analysis

Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co Ltd: Case Summary

Borstal officers were required to supervise young offenders who were working on Brown Sea Island, however the officers left the boys unsupervised. Several of the young offenders then stole a boat and crashed it into the yacht of the Claimant. It was found the Home Office owed a duty of care as they were in a position of control over the 3rd party who caused the damage which was considered foreseeable by the court.

Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co Ltd: Download Judgment

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Why is The Home Office v The Dorset Yacht Company case important?

This case marked the start of a judicial expansion of the scope of negligence by widening the circumstances when a court is likely to find a duty of care exists. The law lords elucidated Lord Atkins’ neighbour principle by adding the element on foreseeability. In particular, Lord Reid said:

“the taking by the trainees of a nearby yacht and the causing of damage to the other yacht which belonged to the respondents ought to have been foreseen by the borstal officers as likely to occur if they failed to exercise proper control or supervision; in the particular circumstances the officers prima facie owed a duty of care to the respondents…”

Lord Reid, Dorset Yacht Co Ltd v Home Office [1970] UKHL 1004

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