Animals’ Act

The claimant, David Ray, was an enforcement officer who said he was at a farm for the purpose of investigating fly tipping. He could not enter the house due to dogs in the courtyard owned by the defendant. He tried to attract the attention of the owner by rattling the gate. One of the dogs bit his hand, causing a wound that required 14 stitches.


The defendants argued that Mr Ray was the author of his own misfortune, so the Section 5 Defence of the Animals Act applied. Section 5 states that “there is no liability if the damage is wholly due to the claimant’s fault, or he voluntarily assumes the risk thereof.”

The Claimant stated he knew to keep away from the dogs and there was therefore no suggestion that he would try to open the gate or befriend the dog. Even if he had put his hand on the gate he should not be at risk of being attacked whichever way the Judge found this accident happened. If this is the case then liability was founded under Section 2(2) of the Animals Act 1971. It was suggested that due to the level of warnings (“beware of the dog” signs were visible at the entrance of the farm) it is foreseeable that an animal would behave in this way and the failure of the claimant was a momentary lapse and he did not expect the dog to do what it did when he put his hand on the gate.

Upon hearing all the evidence His Honour Judge Hewitt found in the claimant’s favour and the claim succeeded under a breach of Section 2(2) of the Animals Act 1971. The claimant however was found to be 15 per cent at contributory fault. 
The case was widely publicised in local newspapers.

David Ray -v- Robert Wilkinson T/A Northview Farm

Barney over rubble


The claimant, a bin man, went to remove a bin for refuse collection. As he placed his hand on the bin, it toppled over, causing him injury. The claimant’s case was that the bin had been made top heavy by rubble at the top of the bin. The claimant reported the incident to the householders who came out and cleared up the rubble. At no point did the defendant householders say that the rubble was not theirs.

The case basically centred on whether or not the defendants had placed the rubble in the bin. They admitted they did not say at the time that it was not theirs, their only reason for this was because they “did not think to”.

At trial, they did deny it was their rubble.

The Judge would have had to have found that the defendants were lying about placing the rubble in the bin. The Judge found that the claimant had not told the defendants of his injury and therefore that it was not surprising that they did not say the rubble was not put in their bin by themselves.

The defendants had implied other neighbours were having work done around this time and it was proved they were not. Hearsay evidence was admitted from a neighbour saying that the defendants had had work done around the time of the accident. The Judge placed very little weight on this evidence as the witness was not available for cross examination.

The claimant lost as the Judge was unwilling to find the defendant was lying.

Raymond Price -v- Mr Kenneth Carter, 7 December 2005, Newcastle CC