Nichols v Marsland – Case Summary

Nichols v Marsland

Court of Appeal

Citations: (1876) 2 Ex D 1.


There was an ornamental pool on the defendant’s land. The pool contained various safeguards to prevent flooding, allowing excess water to drain away naturally. However, a freak rainfall overwhelmed these safeguards. This caused the water in the pool to flood out onto the claimant’s land, damaging it. The claimant sued the defendant in negligence.

  1. Was the defendant responsible for the damage caused by the flooding?

The Court of Appeal held in favour of the defendant. The defendant was not liable for the damage caused by the flooding because it was not reasonably foreseeable.

This Case is Authority For…

A defendant is not liable for damage caused by an ‘act of God’, because he cannot be said to have ‘caused‘ the damage. An act of God is an act of nature which is not reasonably foreseeable.