Addis v Campbell (D1); Leaman (D2)

[2011] EWCA Civ 906

Dog walker not negligent

The claimant (C) alleged that he had been knocked over and sustained serious injuries when he collided with Taz, a Staffordshire bull terrier, being walked by D2 and owned by D1. The accident occurred in an open space popular with dog walkers. C was with his wife walking his Labrador dog.

D2 had let Taz off the lead. Unfortunately D2 then fallen into a stream and whilst D2 was being rescued from the water, Taz knocked into C and caused C to fall over.

The claim was dismissed at trial on the basis that Taz had not collided with C and, in any event, D2 was not negligent. C later appealed after discovering that the recorder regularly acted for insurers in claims for damages arising from accidents caused by horses and had campaigned to remove strict liability under the Animals Act. There was, C said, a risk of bias.

Court of Appeal held

The appeal was dismissed:

  • The trial judge should have made her position known where there would be an appearance of bias. However, the matter could be decided on the basis of negligence.
  • Even assuming that Taz had collided with C, the expert evidence was that the dog was well managed, not aggressive, nimble and well co-ordinated. D2 walked the dog regularly and there was no evidence of previous accidents. It was not negligent, therefore, to let Taz off the lead and it could not be negligent to fail to resume control of the dog when D2 came out of the river. There was no basis for finding that D2 should have foreseen a risk of injury. To hold D2 negligent in these circumstances would be imposing too stringent a duty of care. Jones v Whippey [2009] Court of Appeal applied.