Cunningham v Reading Football Club – Case Summary

Cunningham v Reading Football Club Ltd

High Court

Citations: [1992] PIQR P141; (1993) 157 LG Rev 481; [1993] CLY 2973.

Facts

The claimants were police officers working at a football stadium while a match was on. The stands were in poor condition, which allowed members of the crowd to pull concrete off the floor. Several people threw concrete at the officers, injuring them. The claimants sued the owner of the stadium in negligence and occupiers liability.

Issue(s)
  1. Was the defendant in breach of a common law duty of care to the officers?
  2. Was the defendant liable under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957?
  3. Did the independent actions of the crowd break causation?
Decision

The High Court held in favour of the claimants. The defendant was liable in both common law negligence and occupiers liability. It was foreseeable that the crowd would be violent, and fans had thrown concrete before. The defendant failed to take steps to deal with this possible danger.

This Case is Authority For…

Foreseeable actions of a third-party will not break the chain of causation under occupiers liability.

Other

This case is an example of occupiers liability existing even though the danger was not strictly due to the state of the premises: it was due to a particular activity done on the premises. At the same time, the state of the premises did enable the activity. The High Court did not discuss whether this distinction was important. Other cases have speculated that liability is only possible where the danger arises from the state of the premises: Ogwo v Taylor [1988] AC 431.

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