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Knapp v Railway Executive [1949] 2 All ER 508

Breach of statutory duty; whether employee had right of action under s274 Brighton and Chichester Railway Act 1844

Facts

Mr Knapp was approaching a railway level crossing in his car where the barrier was down. He accidentally let his car run into the barrier which was not appropriately secured in breach of statutory duty under s274 Brighton and Chichester Railway Act 1844. The barrier swung open and hit an oncoming train injuring the train driver. The train driver successfully sued Mr Knapp in negligence and he sought indemnity from the Railway Executive for breach of statutory duty for failing to secure the barrier.

Issues

Mr Knapp contended the 1844 Act placed the Railway Executive under a duty to employ proper people to open and shut the gates and railway crossings, and the statute was designed to protect those using the highway and the railway. The barrier was not appropriately secured and this breach of duty caused injury to the train driver who should, therefore, recover damages from them as a person whom the statute was designed to protect. The Railway Executive contended that the 1844 Act was designed to protect persons using the turnpikes and highways, and therefore, no right of action stemmed from an injury to an employee of the Railway Executive.

Held

Mr Knapp was unsuccessful in his claim for indemnity. The 1844 Act was unequivocally designed to protect persons using the highway and the benefit of the protections of the statute could not be claimed by an employee of the Railway Executive. The train driver had no right of action.


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