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Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co Ltd

323 words (1 pages) Case Summary

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

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

Legal Case Summary

Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co Ltd [1970] AC 1004;
[1970] 2 WLR 1140; [1970] 2 All ER 294; [1970] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 453; (1970) 114 SJ 375



Seven boys detained in a borstal – a type of youth detention centre, were working on an island under the supervision of three officers. The borstal boys escaped from the island at night with the plaintiffs’ yacht and damaged it. The plaintiffs brought an action for damages against the Home Office which was in control of the bostrals on grounds that the officers on the island were negligent as they failed to exercise control and supervision over the boys. The Queen’s Bench held that the Home Office owed duty of care to the plaintiffs, which was capable of giving rise to liability in damages. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the Home Office.


(1) Does the Home Office owe duty of care to private persons with respect to persons undergoing sentences of bostral training or the manner in which such persons were controlled while undergoing their sentences?

(2) Does public policy require that the supervisors of persons undergoing sentences of bostral training are immune from action and liability for the damages caused by such persons?


The appeal by the Home Office was dismissed.

(1) The borstal officers owe a duty to take such care as was reasonable in all the circumstances with the view of preventing the persons under their control from causing damage if there is a manifest risk if this duty is neglected.

(2) Public policy does not require that there should be immunity from action for borstal  officers.

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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.

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