Jebson v Ministry of Defence
Court of Appeal
Citations:  1 WLR 2055;  RTR 2;  ICR 1220;  PIQR P201; (2000) 97(28) LSG 32;  CLY 4214.
The claimant was a soldier employed by the defendant. The claimant’s commander organised a recreational evening in a local town, and arranged an army lorry to transport the soldiers there and back. The lorry had canvas sides, but an open back. The driver had no view of the back. When the soldiers returned to the lorry at the end of the night, most of the soldiers (including the claimant) were drunk and there was no officer supervising them. On the journey back, at the encouragement of his colleagues, the claimant tried to climb over the truck’s canvas. He fell and suffered serious injuries. The claimant sued the defendants in negligence.
- Did the defendant owe the claimant a due of care?
- Did the claimant’s act of trying to climb a moving vehicle make the injury too unforeseeable for the purposes of remoteness?
The Court of Appeal held in favour of the claimant. The defendant owed the claimant a duty of care in these circumstances and the injury was sufficiently non-remote.
This Case is Authority For…
Where an employer has encouraged an outing at which they foresee drinking will take place, and provide transport, they are under a duty to ensure that the transport provided is suitable and the employees are supervised.
When assessing whether the injury is foreseeable for the purposes of remoteness, the risk should be normally be phrased in general terms. In this case, the question was whether injury was a foreseeable result of drunken and rowdy behaviour on the lorry, not whether it was specifically foreseeable that the claimant would try to climb on the canvas.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge’s assessment that the claimant’s damages should be reduce by 75% for contributory negligence.