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

Stoddart v Perucca, Court of Appeal, 1 March 2011

21 March 2011
The issues

Causative potency – blameworthiness – contributory negligence – road traffic – horse – horses.

The facts

In June 2002 on a summer’s evening, the Claimant, who was 14 was riding her horse ‘Trigger’ with her friend along a bridleway near Sunderland. The bridleway met Burden Lane, in respect of which the speed limit was 60mph. They needed to cross the lane. The Claimant’s friend crossed safely. She was not immediately followed by the Claimant, who had been held back to practice a jump before following the friend. In the interval between the two horses crossing, the Defendant drove down Burden Land in his Ford campervan with a trailer behind it. He came across the Claimant coming from the bridleway in circumstances that made a collision unavoidable. The Claimant’s horse reared and fell, throwing the Claimant and subsequently falling on the Claimant, injuring her.

The matter came before the Judge who found that the Claimant was an experienced rider and Trigger, a dependable horse. At the point of the collision, the Claimant had a view of about 300 meters to the right. Evidence from at least one of the following drivers prior to the collision was to the effect that on seeing the first horse, the driver slowed, knowing from experience that horse riders often travelled in pairs. The Judge found that the Defendant was driving at about 40mph and that he had slowed when he had seen the first rider cross the road, but had then speeded up a little and had not allowed for the possibility of a second rider emerging. When the Claimant did emerge the Trial Judge found that she was going at a fast walk or a trot. The Trial Judge found that the Defendant was liable for failing to appreciate the possibility of a second horse emerging and then speeding up before reaching the bridleway and that had he been doing even a few miles per hour slower, the likelihood was that he would have stopped without impact. He assessed contributory negligence at 50%. In doing so, he considered both blameworthiness and causative effect. The Defendant sought to Appeal as to liability and apportionment but was denied permission to Appeal on liability.

The decision

A car was a potentially lethal instrument which required great care in its handling. In Lundt v Khelifa [2002] the Court of Appeal had noted that the Court had consistently imposed on the drivers of cars a high burden to reflect the fact that cars were potentially dangerous weapons. The Trial Judge had made a realistic appraisal of blameworthiness as being greater in the Claimant than in the Defendant but had noted that he was required by law to adjust that apportionment for the relative potency of the vehicles involved in the accident. In using the term “vehicles” reference had to be made to both horse and car in that horses too are capable of doing a great deal of damage.

The Judge had also rightly taken into account the fact that although the driver was not driving recklessly, he had made a significant error of judgment in not taking caution from the emergence of one horse and slowing down to allow for the possible emergence of another. He was entitled to conclude the contributory fault was at the level of 50%.

Appeal dismissed.

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