Mullin v Richards – Case Summary

Mullin v Richards

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1997] EWCA Civ 2662, [1998] 1 All ER 920, [1998] 1 WLR 1304.


The claimant and defendant were both 15 year-old girls who were play-fighting with rulers at school. The defendant’s ruler broke and a fragment of plastic permanently blinded the claimant in one eye. The claimant sued the defendant in negligence. This sort of behaviour was common in the school, and this was the first injury to occur.

  1. What standard of care does a child owe to others in negligence?

The Court of Appeal held that the defendant was not liable. A reasonable 15 year-old would not have foreseen any significant risk of injury from the parties’ behaviour.

This Case is Authority For…

A child should only be held to the standard of a reasonable child of the same age.


The judge stressed the test of breach in negligence is objective, but that the age of the defendant was not irrelevant to this.