Legal Case Summary
The Calgarth  P 93 Coram
Extent of a visitor to property’s rights under a licence
The Calgarth was the stern tug of a large steam ship, the Otarama, which was assisting the larger vessel in entering onto the Manchester Ship Canal. Whilst manoeuvring, the Calgarth ran aground on the bank of the entrance channel to the canal which was constructed and maintained by the Canal Company. In doing so, the Calgarth’s propeller caught a chain that was used for mooring dredgers and was attached to the bank. It was held at first instance that the channel in which the Calgarth was manoeuvring was a navigable highway and that the chain in was an obstruction to navigation, with the result that Canal Company were liable to the owners of the ship. The Canal Company appealed.
The issue in this circumstance was whether the chain attached to the bank constituted an obstruction to the navigable highway and caused a nuisance or obstruction.
Decision / Outcome
The facts in the case demonstrated that the Calgarth only caught the chain because the ship had become embedded in the bank and worked its propeller into the bank. Given that the tug was a licensee, the licence did not extend to becoming grounded, it related to the use of the navigable channel only. Therefore, the tug was outside the scope of its licence when it caught the chain and the chain could not constitute a nuisance in these circumstances. Scrutton LJ stated:
When you invite a person into your house to use the staircase, you do not invite him to slide down the bannisters, you invite him to use the staircase in the ordinary way in which it is used.
The appeal was allowed.
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