Stansbie v Troman – Case Summary

Stansbie v Troman

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1948] 2 KB 48; [1948] 1 All ER 599; [1948] LJR 1206; (1948) 92 SJ 167; [1947-51] CLY 6768.


A householder contracted with a decorator to renovate his house. The householder’s wife left the decorator in charge of the house while she went out. He left, leaving the house unoccupied and not properly locked up. A thief entered the house and stole property. The householder sued the decorator in negligence.

  1. Did the decorator owe a duty of care to the householder?
  2. Had the decorator breached any duty of care?
  3. Had any breach caused the householder’s loss?

The Court of Appeal held in favour of the householder.

  • The contract between the decorator and the householder created a duty on the decorator to exercise reasonable care.
  • They had breached that duty by failing to properly lock up the house.
  • Protecting the house against intruders was part of this duty, so the intervention of a third-party thief did not break the chain of causation. The decorator was liable in negligence.
This Case is Authority For…

Normally, the defendant will not be liable in tort for the independent, deliberate acts of a third-party. A third-party’s act will not break the chain of causation if the defendant’s duty included protecting the claimant’s interests against that kind of third party.


This case shows that some contractual duties can lead to corresponding duties in tort.