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.

McGhee v National Coal Board - 1973

342 words (1 pages) Case Summary

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

Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law

Legal Case Summary

McGhee v National Coal Board [1973] 1 WLR 1

To satisfy causation, a claimant need only prove that the negligent behaviour most likely made a material contribution to the injury.


The claimant, McGhee, contracted a skin condition (dermatitis) in the course of his employment with the defendant, the National Coal Board. The defendant requested McGhee work with the brick kilns, but failed to satisfy their statutory duty to provide a washing area to allow employees to remove the dust from the kilns at the end of the day. Subsequently, employees could not wash off the dust till they returned home.

Two possible causes were identified for McGhee’s dermatitis: exposure to brick dust during the working day, and the continued exposure received between the end of the day and being able to wash at home.


Could the defendant be found liable for the claimant’s injuries, or, as the defendant’s asserted, could the chief relevant authority of Bonnington Castings Ltd v Wardlaw [1956] AC 613 be distinguished on the grounds that it could not be ascertained whether every skin abrasion of the claimant’s exposed to the brick dust was responsible for his contracting dermatitis, whilst in Bonnington Castings it had been determined that all the harmful silica breathed by the claimant had contributed to his injury.

Decision / Outcome

The House of Lords held that the instant case ought not be distinguished from Bonnington Castings; the claimant did not need to prove that all of his abrasions and their exposure to brick dust had contributed to his illness, but rather that the dust exposure stemming from the defendant’s negligent breach of statutory duty had, on the balance of probabilities, materially increased the likelihood of him developing dermatitis.

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