CORPORATION OF CITY OF GLASGOW V. TAYLOR- CASE STUDY

CORPORATION OF CITY OF GLASGOW V. TAYLOR- CASE STUDY  

This case is based on the tort of negligence, wherein due to the negligence by the corporation of the city of Glasgow, a 7-year-old boy died due to their breach of care towards all the citizens who are subjects of the city of Glasgow. This incident took place in a town called Glasgow. The corporation of Glasgow is the defender in this case. Taylor; the father of the deceased seven years old boy, is the plaintiff. Taylor filed a suit against the corporation of Glasgow to claim the damages he suffered due to the negligence of the corporation.

The facts of the case are hereinafter:

This case was filed on 18 November 1921 before the House of Lords.  The father of the boy, aged seven, who died from eating the berries of a poisonous shrub, called Atropa belladonna growing in some public garden in the city of Glasgow, sued the corporation to claim damages for the death of his son.

The berries of the poisonous shrub were not fenced and the appearance of the berries was tempting in nature, which, normally children would be attracted to. The vicinity in which the corporation grew the berries was on alongside, the public garden, to which children and people of all ages had an access to.

The gate of the area where berries grew was easily opened by the young children and was in part of the garden which was much frequented by the children living in that particular area. The boy, with some other children, entered the area where the poisonous berries were growing and ate some.

He suffered from some breathing problems, and even though he was given immediate medical attention, he died after a while. The defenders knew that the berries which they were growing were poisonous and took no necessary precaution to warn the people about the nature of the berries.

The judgments passed were:

By lord Atkinson, lord Buckmaster, lord Shaw, and lord Sumner said that:

“The management and the corporation of the botanic garden where they were growing different types of the berries which were in the public garden and were solely responsible for the death of the seven years old child”. 

They in their further statement also mentioned the poisonous berries which they were growing called Atropa belladonna was very alluring and tempting in nature; it also had a similar appearance to grapes. People of all ages including adults and, young children who are too immature to understand the difference in the berries could have been deceived.

They in addition also mentioned the fact that “it was the responsibility of the corporation to properly fence the area, grow the berries in an isolated area compared to non-poisonous berries, and that there should have been some kind of warning to alert the people about the berries and prevent them from eating”.

The important facts stated by the lords for the case were:

Firstly, children are entitled to go on the spot where the shrubs are grown.

Secondly, there was no warning given to the Parents and the custodians of the children about the dangerous nature of the berries, and what its result would lead to, and

Thirdly, the defenders knew about the nature of the berries and did not do anything to prevent the death of a seven years old child. The defendants were negligent in performing their duty as the damages could be done to anyone for that matter, as the injury was foreseeable and could have been prevented by taking necessary precaution i.e a warning sign, a solid gate which would require a lot of force to open, isolation of berries from the public garden. They owed a duty of care towards whoever comes into the garden, and as there was a breach of the said duty of care, the defendants (corporation of the city of Glasgow) were responsible to compensate for the damages done.

Principles applied:

The case is based on the negligence of the corporation and the essentials for the negligence are:

  1. Duty of care towards the plaintiff: to constitute negligence, the defenders should have an obligated or legal duty of care towards the plaintiff. Essentially, in this case, the corporation as well had a duty of care towards all the people who had an access to the public garden. Anyone visiting the garden owed a duty of care by the defenders.

2. Breach of duty: As the defendant owes a duty of care towards the plaintiff, and non-observance of the said duty results in the breach of duty. There must be a breach of duty towards the plaintiff. it could be in form of a wrongful act or omission. Incorporation of Glasgow v. Taylor, there was a breach of duty as they did not take any necessary action of preventing people to enter the premises, give them warning about the dangerous nature of the berries.

3. Depends upon the foreseeability of injury: if the injury is foreseeable by the defendant, he owes a duty to do anything in his power to prevent the injury by either his act or warning and notices. In failure to prevent the injury, he shall be liable. Whereas, if the injury is not foreseeable and is just a remote possibility, which is almost impossible to happen, then he shall be not liable. In the corporation of Glasgow v. Taylor, the corporation knew about the hazardous nature of the berries and what could happen if someone eats them; as the appearance of the berries were similar to that of grapes and anyone could be easily deceived. Here, the injury was foreseeable and the corporation did nothing to prevent the injury from happening either by their action, by warning, informing people about the nature of the berries, or constructed a solid gate from forbidding people to enter. Hence, they were liable for their negligence.

4. The magnitude of a risk: magnitude of a risk is an important factor, as not every situation will require a standard form of care, the magnitude of risk varies from situation to situation.

If the foreseeable injury is high, then the precaution taken should be in a greater form. Whereas, where the foreseeable injury is not that high and the possibility is remote almost not possible then the precaution taken should be in that form.

 In the corporation of Glasgow v. Taylor, the magnitude of risk was very much higher, as the berries held a deadly nature, they were deceiving in nature. Cautioning people was in a higher need. In this situation a lot of precautions could have been taken as forbidding people from entering, a warning or notice about was kind of berries were growing.

5. Damage suffered: Due to the breach of the duty towards the plaintiff, as result, the plaintiff suffered damage altogether it would result in negligence. In the corporation of Glasgow v. Taylor, the corporation had a duty towards all the people visiting frequently in the public garden of the town, due to their breach of duty of not warning people about the nature of the berries, constructing a solid gate from preventing people to enter and other necessary precaution, the plaintiff (father of the boy; Taylor) suffered significant damage, his seven years old son died all due to corporation’s negligence.

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