British Road Services v Arthur V Crutchley & Co Ltd (No.1) [1968] 1 All ER 811

Tort law – Negligence


The plaintiff transported a lorry load of whisky by road and delivered it to a warehouse owned by the defendant. Upon arrival, the whisky was unloaded and placed on a trailer for the next leg of the journey which was to take place the following day. Overnight, the warehouse was guarded by security but the whisky was in view of the public. The security officer made one less than his scheduled visits to the warehouse that night and shortly after his last visit, thieves stole the whisky from the warehouse. The plaintiff paid the whisky owners compensation and subsequently sued the defendant for negligence.


It was important for the court to establish whether the actions of the security guard could be considered to be negligent. If so, this would help the court to decide whether the defendant was liable for the loss. There was also a clause in the contract between the parties which limited the liability of the defendant for loss in such circumstances. The court, therefore, had to establish the amount that would be owed in damages, taking this into account, if the defendant was found to be liable.


It was held that the protection provided by the defendant was inadequate and therefore the defendant’s negligence was deemed to have caused the loss. As a result of this, the defendants were liable to the plaintiffs for damages. The court found that due to the conditions of the agreement, the defendant was only liable for £800 per ton in damages.