Disclaimer: This work was produced by one of our expert legal writers, as a learning aid to help law students with their studies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of LawTeacher.net. Any information contained in this case summary does not constitute legal advice and should be treated as educational content only.

Cork v Kirby Maclean

322 words (1 pages) Case Summary

28th Oct 2021 Case Summary Reference this In-house law team

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

Legal Case Summary

Cork v Kirby MacLean Ltd [1952] 2 All ER 402



The claimant was a factory worker who died when he had an epileptic seizure while working on a platform with no railings over 20 feet above the ground. His employers were not aware of his condition, nor of the fact that his doctor had told him not to work at heights. The claimant’s partner sued the defendant employers in the tort of negligence.


Establishing negligence involves proving that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care, breached this duty of care, and that the breach caused the harm. It was clear in this case that a duty was owed and had been breached due to the absence of any railings. However, the defendant argued that the absence of railings did not cause his death, but rather the epilepsy did. As the defendant did not cause the epilepsy, they argued they did not cause the death.

The issue in this case was how causation is established in the tort of negligence.

Decision / Outcome

The Court of Appeal held the defendant liable.

The Court set out the test for establishing causation. If the harm would not have occurred but for the breach of duty, the breach has caused the harm in the sense required by the tort of negligence. If the harm would have occurred anyway even if the defendant had not been in breach, the breach is not a cause of the harm.

In this case, had appropriate railings been installed, the claimant would not have not fallen off the platform while having the seizure. The defendant’s breach therefore caused the accident. The claimant’s damages were reduced to reflect his contributory negligence in failing to inform his employers of his condition, however.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

Related Content

Jurisdictions / Tags

Content relating to: "UK Law"

UK law covers the laws and legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Essays, case summaries, problem questions and dissertations here are relevant to law students from the United Kingdom and Great Britain, as well as students wishing to learn more about the UK legal system from overseas.

Related Articles