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Cattle v Stockton Waterworks Co [1975] LR 10 QB 453

Tort - Negligence - Injury to Real Property - Illegality - Rights of Wrongdoer


Stockton Waterworks Co laid down one of their main roads along and under a turnpike road. Private property was either side of the road. The landowner employed Cattle to make a tunnel under the road so he could access his land on the other side of the road easily. In doing so, a leak in the Waterworks’ main higher up the road was discovered. This flowed down on the work causing delays and consequential loss for Cattle.


Whether Cattle had a right to recover loss from Waterworks in circumstances where there is wrongdoing by a third party.


The damage sustained by Cattle by reason of his contract with the landowner becoming less profitable, did not did not give him a right of action against Waterworks. Lumley v Gye [1853] 2 E & B 216 was distinguished on the basis that the presence of malicious intention was relied upon to determine that an action would be available for maliciously procuring a third person to break a contract with the plaintiff. In the present circumstances, there was found to be no basis for saying that the defendants were malicious or had an intention to injure anyone. Their negligence did injure the property of the land owner but did not injure any property of Cattle. Therefore, Cattle had no rights of recovery for his contract becoming less profitable than he anticipated. However, had there been sufficient grounds for Cattle to claim loss, the fact that the landowner could have been indicted for nuisance to the road would not have rendered the proceedings so illegal as to prevent Cattle from recovering damages for a wrong.

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