Bourhill v Young [1942] UKHL 5 | 5 August 1942

ON 5 AUGUST 1942, the House of Lords delivered Bourhill v Young [1942] UKHL 5 (5 August 1942).

A car and motorcycle collided near a tram causing fatal injuries to the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist was travelling at excessive speed and was at fault. A passenger on the tram heard the sound of the collision but saw nothing. She was startled by the noise of the collision, suffering nervous shock, though she was not in immediate physical injury herself. She observed blood on the roadway after the motorcyclists body had been removed. She later suffered a miscarriage. She claimed damages including losses to her business arising from the nervous shock.

The House of Lords held that the motorcyclist was not guilty of negligence as he did not owe a duty of care to the tram passenger as he could not have reasonably foreseen the likelihood that anyone placed as her (in a position of apparent safety) could have been affected in such a manner.


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