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Hall v Brooklands Auto-Racing Club [1933] 1 KB 205

NEGLIGENCE – DUTY OF CARE OWED TO SPECTATORS – NATURE OF DUTY WHEN EVENT IS DANGEROUS – IMPLIED CONSENT TO RISK

Facts

D were the owners of a racing track for motor cars. The track was oval in shape with a long, straight stretch, which was over 100 feet wide and bounded on its outer side by a cement kerb 6 inches in height, beyond which was a strip of grass 4 feet 5 inches in width enclosed within an iron railing 4 feet 6 inches high. Spectators were admitted on payment to view the races, and stands were provided in which they could do this in safety, but many persons preferred to stand along and outside the railing.

On the day in question two competing cars in a long distance race on this track were involved in a collision on the finishing straight, with one of the cars being flung into the air and over the kerb and railing, hitting a group of spectators and killing two of them. No such accident had occurred previously in the history of the course, which had been running races for over 20 years. D was sued in negligence by an injured spectator, who alleged that the premises had not been made adequately safe for spectators, nor had adequate warning of the dangers been given.

Issues

This case raised the question of whether those who permit their premises to be used for an event which was known to carry dangers to spectators, such as high-speed motor racing, were subject to a more extensive duty-of-care than those whose premises were used for less dangerous activities.

Held

It was the duty of the defendants to see that the track was as free from danger as reasonable care and skill could make it, but they were under no duty to guard against risks that were not reasonably foreseeable, or which were innate to the activity of which C was a spectator. As no accident of this nature had previously occurred it could not be said to be reasonably foreseeable, and D was not required to militate the risk of an event that no amount of due diligence would have revealed.


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