0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

Purdue v Devon Fire, Rescue Service (Court of Appeal)

15 October 2002
The issues

Emergency Services – fire engines – collisions – road traffic – duty to look.

The facts

A fire engine owned by the Defendant was travelling to an emergency along a long stretch of dual carriageway. It approached a junction, where a car was waiting to turn right across its path. As it approached, the light shown to the fire engine turned red and the light showing to the driver of the vehicle turned green. The driver pulled away and the fire engine and the car collided. At first instance, the County found the Fire Brigade liable on the basis that the fire engine had not been sounding wailers and that it had acted negligently in proceeding through the red light. There was no finding of contributory negligence. The Defendant appealed.

The decision

1. The facts in this case were very different to the facts in Griffin -v- Mersey Regional Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Each such case was to be determined upon its own facts.

2. A driver had a duty to take reasonable care to avoid a collision with any vehicle that crossed a red signal.

3. The Highway Code particularly obliged drivers to look and listen for emergency vehicles.

4. It was reasonable to expect that the Claimant would have looked to his right whilst he was stationary. It was not easy to say whether that expectation amounted to a duty. A properly observant driver however would have seen the fire engine coming. A finding of 20% contributory negligence would be made against the driver. Appeal allowed.

For further information on this case please contact Marie Macfarlane at mariemacfarlane@veitchpenny.co.uk.

focus on...

Legal updates

Non-payment of insurance premiums during the Coronavirus pandemic

The forced closure of many businesses as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Recent reports from the Office for National Statistics state that the economy was 25% smaller in April than it was in February this year.


Legal updates

Reinstatement for property damage losses – when does it apply?

The Court of Appeal has recently considered the correct test for measuring the indemnity for property damage losses and has provided useful guidance on whether an insured needs to intend to reinstate the property to its pre-loss condition.


Legal updates

Coronavirus (COVID-19) insurance considerations

With instances of COVID-19 rapidly increasing throughout the UK, many businesses are considering the options available to limit staff and customer exposure to Coronavirus.


Legal updates

Insurance annual review 2019-2020

Welcome to our review of 2019 as we look ahead to what is on the horizon for the insurance sector in 2020.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up