Blake v Galloway
Court of Appeal
Citations:  EWCA Civ 814;  1 WLR 2844;  3 All ER 315; (2004) 101(29) LSG 30;  CLY 2724.
The parties were teenagers who were playing a game. The game involved throwing wood chippings at each other. The claimant was struck in the eye by a chipping thrown by the defendant. He sued the defendant in negligence and battery.
- Is a duty of care owed in the context of rough, consensual play?
- What is the standard for establishing a breach of duty where the parties are engaging in rough, consensual play?
- Did the claimant implicitly consent to the activity, granting the defendant a defence to battery?
The Court of Appeal held in favour of the defendant. There was no breach of duty, and consent barred any battery claim.
This Case is Authority For…
A duty is owed in situations of rough play. In horseplay situations, the activity will usually be conducted without much expectation of care between the parties. In those situations, an act will only amount to a breach if it is reckless, highly careless, or if the defendant departs from the tacit understanding of how the game will proceed. Mere errors of judgement are insufficient.
Participants in sports or other contact-based games can be taken to consent to any contact they could reasonably expect to happen in that game or sport.
The defendant had argued in the alternative that the defence of volenti non fit injuria applied to these facts. Since the Court held that the defendant was not liable in the first place, they did not consider this point.