In this case of Haynes v Harwood 1935 1 KB 146 concerning the tort of negligence, the claimant an on duty Police Officer looked to seek personal injury damages.

  • The key takeaways from this case highlight that you can be held liable for leaving animals unattended.
  • The maxim Volenti will not apply in all situations when there is acceptance of risk.

Facts of the case:

  • The C Thomas John Haynes, an on duty Police Officer issued proceedings against the D G.Harwood & Son for a claim of negligence owing to injuries caused by D’s horses.
  • A van containing two horses belonging to D was left unattended and the horses after being spooked by a boy, bolted down the street which was being occupied by members of the public which included children.  The C, being on duty noticed this and attempted to slow the horses. With this attempt came injuries to the body and clothing of C.

Issues in Haynes v Harwood 1935 1 kb 146

  • The issues of the case relate to a Latin maxim ‘volenti non fit injuria’ sometimes referred to simply as ‘Volenti’. This is awareness of a risk and wilfully continuing and therefore accepting the risk. Where volenti can be proved, a claim in negligence will be struck out. For the defence to apply, C must have knowledge that indicates both the nature and extent of the risk of injury from D’s negligence: Slater v Clay Cross [1956] 2 QB 264.
  • Here it was argued by D that as C wilfully accepted the risk of injury by seizing the horses, there should be no claim.

Held by Court of Appeal

  • Held that the D was guilty of negligence by leaving the horses unattended in a heavily populated area.  Volenti did not apply.

Greer, Maugham and Roche L.JJ.

  • The Ratio Decidendi comes from the fact that D should have been aware or that it would be reasonable for D to be aware that someone may attempt to slow the horses to prevent injury to the public.

Further to this it was held that:

  • In an attempt to slow the horses, C was under a common duty of care to protect life, limb and property and therefore the injuries to C were a probable course of the D’s negligence.
  • It was further held by Finlay J that Volenti would not apply due to C not truly agreeing to take on the risk with awareness of all the consequences.

The defendants appealed a first instance on the grounds that:

  • No negligence was established.
  • C was under no duty to stop the horse.

As was stated in Beven “ it is clear that there is no legal duty on a man seeing another in the water drowning to plunge in and rescue him; nor yet on a passer-by seeing a child under the feet of a horse to pull him out and precent his being run over”. P1 Pg. 148

Greer L.J  stated in their judgment that it would not be usual for a person to recover damages where they have put themselves in ‘peril’ in an attempt to avoid public injury or death. Yet as the C in this case was a Police Officer, he was not a volunteer and  have a moral duty if not a legal duty to prevent a serious injury.

Greer L.J dismissed the appeal.