Gorris v Scott – Case Summary

Gorris v Scott

Court of Exchequer

Citations: (1873-74) LR 9 Ex 125.


The defendant was a shipowner carrying the claimant’s sheep on his vessel. The defendant was under a statutory duty to take certain measures to prevent overcrowding of animals on sea vessels. The purpose of this duty was explicitly to prevent the spread of disease. The defendant breached this duty by housing the animals in unsuitable pens. The claimant’s sheep were washed overboard as a result.

  1. Could the claimant recover damages for breach of statutory duty?

The Court held in favour of the defendant. The damage fell outside of the scope of what the statutory duty was designed to prevent.

This Case is Authority For…

Even if a breach of statutory duty gives rise to a private cause of action, damages are not recoverable unless they fall within the scope of what the duty was designed to prevent.