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Donaldson v Wilson, Court of Appeal, 9 July 2004

20 July 2004
The issues

Road Traffic – Straying Cattle Hit By Motorcyclist – Liability of Farmer

The facts

The Defendant kept cattle in an upper field. Between the upper field and the highway was Home Farm which was owned by another farmer and had become dilapidated and run down. If effectively cattle escaped from the upper field it was possible for them without a further barrier to reach the highway. A public right of way ran through the gateway into the upper field and was heavily used.

A walker left the gate open and cattle escaped through the gate and through Home Farm to the highway where they were struck by the Claimant riding his motorcycle. At Trial the Judge found for the Claimant.

The Defendant appealed.

The decision

1. The Defendant was aware of the condition of Home Farm and that if cattle escaped from his upper field there was nothing to stop them getting onto the highway.

2. He should have taken account of the fact that walkers might leave the gate to the upper field open. He had made no risk assessment with regard to the possibility of cattle straying.

3. Where a gate to a field was the last barrier to the highway and that gate was the subject of a busy right of public way, a farmer was under duty to have taken extra precautions to ensure that alternative means of access along the right of way could be provided and so enable a gate to be secured.

Appeal dismissed.

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